Newswise — Lack of blood flow to the lower extremities can cause severe leg cramps and foot pain in those who suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD). A new drug-eluting stent is bringing relief to those patients by opening up severely clogged arteries and keeping them open longer. In clinical studies, it cut re-intervention in half.

The Zilver® PTX® by Cook Medical® is a bare metal stent that when deployed expands and opens up clogged arteries. What sets it apart from other stents is the drug Paclitaxel, which coats the stent. This drug is also used in chemotherapy treatments to fight various types of cancers such as breast, ovarian and lung. The stent opens up the arteries and the drug, which soaks up the cells of the arterial wall, prevents the re-narrowing of the arteries over time.

“We’ve used bare metal stents in the past, but many patients had rapid recurrence of their arterial blockages due to excessive tissue reaction to the presence of the stents,” said Dr. Hosam El-Sayed, an endovascular surgeon with Houston Methodist Hospital. “This new stent is the first to combine the mechanical support of a stent and a powerful drug to reduce the risk of future blockages.”

PAD is a chronic, progressive circulatory disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the rest of the body. Over time, the plaque can harden and narrow the arteries, restricting blood flow. This condition affects between 8 and 12 million Americans, even though some do not experience symptoms like pain or cramping in the lower extremities.

A four-year study of 479 patients found a 75 percent patency rate for those with the Zilver® PTX® compared to 58 percent who had the regular bare metal stents.

“This very exciting because these numbers are approaching the results with bypass surgery, which is an effective and long lasting open procedure, but is a much bigger operation with a much longer recovery time,” El-Sayed said. “This procedure can be done minimally-invasively and is a great leap forward in the treatment of the lower extremities disease because it offers marked improvement in the results of endovascular treatment of those patients.”

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