NEW HAVEN — Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) is advancing the treatment of patients with peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Earlier this month Carlos Mena, MD, director of vascular medicine for the YNHH Heart and Vascular Center, deployed the first drug-coated angioplasty balloon catheter into a patient with PVD. The FDA-approved drug-coated balloon (DCB) is used to re-open arteries in the thigh (superficial femoral arteries) and knee (popliteal arteries) when narrowed or blocked as a result of PVD.

Drug coated balloon for treatment of peripheral vascular disease is a new technology that until now was used for coronary artery stenosis. The main use of this technology is in patients with diabetic foot who otherwise would have amputation of the limb. During this procedure the doctor inserts the paclitaxel eluting balloon to dilate the artery, no matter if it is a new or recurrent stenosis. This technology significantly reduces the rate of recurrent stenosis and is more effective over time, compared to the results of standard angioplasty with or without a stent.

A narrowing of arteries in the arm or leg, PVD affects about eight million Americans. The risk increases with age, and for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. The threat is even greater for smokers. People with PAD are four to five times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. It can also lead to gangrene and amputation.