SAN DIEGO–Palomar Health has a new weapon against Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). Vascular surgeons at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido now use a new image-guided catheter to more accurately navigate through blocked arteries. The hospital purchased the FDA-cleared Ocelot system by Avinger earlier this month, and is the first facility in San Diego County to put it to use.
PAD is an unrecognized epidemic that affects between eight and 12 million adults in the U.S. and 30 million people globally. It is caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries that blocks blood flow to the legs and feet. Frequently dismissed as normal signs of aging, symptoms of PAD include painful cramping, numbness, or discoloration in the legs or feet.
Because some blockages can become so severe and difficult to penetrate with traditional catheters, patients (unaware of advanced treatment options like Ocelot) often resort to undergo extremely invasive bypass surgeries that result in even higher health risks and lengthy, painful recoveries.
“Often times, bypass surgeries or amputations are the recommended solutions for complications from PAD,” says Alexander Salloum, M.D., a vascular surgeon affiliated with Palomar Health. “Ocelot can help save patients from such dire circumstances, and they can be back on their feet in days.”
The Ocelot catheter allows physicians to see from inside an artery during the actual procedure, using optical coherence tomography, or OCT. In the past, surgeons have had to rely solely on X-ray as well as touch and/or feel to guide catheters through complicated blockages. With Ocelot, they can more accurately navigate through chronic total occlusions (CTO) thanks to the images from inside the artery.
Surgeons at Palomar Medical Center will use Ocelot to help restore blood flow in completely blocked arteries in patients’ legs through a simple two-millimeter skin incision, helping to avoid amputation.
“Using the new Ocelot system is like driving in a tunnel with headlights,” says Dr.Salloum. “Before, we were navigating along the arteries slowly without the ability to see what was ahead. With this new technology, we are able to better treat the blockage in one fairly quick and easy procedure.
Ocelot is the first-ever CTO crossing catheter that uses OCT technology to access exact regions of the peripheral vasculature where blockages occur, while simultaneously providing physicians with visualization for real-time navigation during an intervention. It is a minimally invasive treatment designed to allow patients to leave the hospital within hours, and return to normal activities within a few days.
Hospitalization costs of PAD alone are estimated to exceed $21 billion annually, largely due to late detection and patients experiencing a decreased quality of life from invasive bypass surgery or amputation. Patients over 50 often face amputation, the worst-case scenario associated with PAD. Each year, more than 200,000 amputations occur and now many of them can be avoided.
Palomar Health is the largest public health-care district by area in California and the most comprehensive health-care delivery system in northern San Diego County. It is governed by a publicly-elected board of directors, and its primary service area in Inland North San Diego County has more than 500,000 residents.
Palomar Health provides medical services in virtually all fields of medicine, including primary care, cardiovascular care, emergency services, trauma, cancer, orthopedics, women’s health, rehabilitation, robotic surgery and bariatric surgery.
Founded in 2007 by renowned cardiologist and medical device entrepreneur Dr. John B. Simpson, Avinger seeks to radically improve the treatment of vascular disease through the development of new technology and a new approach called lumivascular (lumi = light, vascular = artery).
Lumivascular procedures use an interventional catheter system that incorporates light-based, radiation-free, intravascular imaging technology within the actual therapeutic device. This provides physicians with live, real-time, video-rate images of the inside of an artery during treatment, offering a variety of benefits for patients, physicians and hospitals. Already commercially available is Ocelot, the first line of devices using lumivascular technology, used to open totally occluded arteries in the legs. Avinger is currently developing a line of lumivascular atherectomy devices, called Pantheris, which will be used to remove plaque from the arteries affected by peripheral artery disease.