Vascular Institute Of Chattanooga First In State To Offer Plaque-Busting Therapy

For Patients Suffering From Peripheral Artery Disease

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Vascular Institute of Chattanooga becomes the first medical facility or physician practice in Tennessee to offer a technologically advanced therapy to treat an advanced form of peripheral artery disease in which calcium deposits create plaques obstructing blood flow. Intravascular Lithotripsy uses sonic pressure waves to shatter calcified lesions that, left untreated, will occlude blood flow to all tissues distal to the plaque.

“The longer a patient has a calcified obstruction that reduces or stops circulation, the more likely the patient will be faced with tissue death that will require an amputation,” said Dr. Chris LeSar, founding physician of the Vascular Institute of Chattanooga, which offers treatment of diseases of the blood vessels and circulatory failure. “Just like a heart attack or a stroke, an occlusion of a blood vessel in the leg or foot must be treated to reopen the vessel. The use of sonic pressure waves is the newest and safest method to avoid blood vessel damage while restoring circulation.” 

Employing a similar technology used to treat kidney stones, also made up of calcium, IVL is a minimally-invasive therapy that can be performed on an out-patient basis. The technology uses a balloon catheter containing miniature electrodes which emit sound waves that crack and break up calcium in vessel walls. The technology protects already weakened and diseased vessels without the need to overinflate the balloon which can lead to extensive vessel damage or further aggravate frail tissues, said officials. 

PAD affects nearly 20 million people in the United States with the formation of artery plaques, which can prevent blood flow to the legs and feet, causing significant pain and limited mobility, and potentially leading to surgery or even amputation in severe cases. In some PAD patients, calcium deposits slowly develop and progress to a hardened, bone-like state over the course of several decades of cellular growth and death within diseased plaques inside the vessel walls. While it is slow to develop, its impact is immediately encountered when performing procedures to repair calcified plaques in the vessel. The calcium’s hardened structure restricts normal vessel movement and makes the rigid vascular tissue resistant to traditional balloon therapies that have been designed to compress the plaque within the vessel wall to restore normal blood flow. For these reasons, the presence of calcium increases the complexity of most cases and decreases the effectiveness of most treatments, said officials. 

"The commitment at VIC is to find every option possible to avoid amputation, which critically impacts our patients’ abilities to work, raise their families and live healthy lives. IVL is part of our commitment to excellence in vascular care for this community,” Dr. LeSar concluded, noting this unique treatment is available only at the Chattanooga area regional facility. 

For more information, visit or call 602-2750.

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