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Device lets doctors see inside arteries to treat blockage

With a built-in camera, it can shave plaque without damaging blood vessels.


One of the best treatments for patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD) is an atherectomy, where doctors use a cathetar to gouge out plaque inside blood vessels. The problem is that so far, doctors have only had X-rays and their own sense of touch to guide the delicate tools, and a wrong move can damage a blood vessel. However, the FDA has just approved a new type of atherectomy device from a company called Avinger that will help surgeons to literally see inside blood vessels. The "Pantheris" has a built-in camera that lets doctors image arteries in real-time, then use the device to shave away plaque with more precision than ever before.

The tool uses "optical coherence tomography" to image the structure of blood vessels and any plaque inside. "For the first time, we are able to see exactly where we are removing the plaque, and are better able to leave the healthy artery alone," says Dr. Thomas Davis from St. John Hospital in Michigan. He added that the device should also reduce physician and patient X-ray exposure. For those who suffer from blocked arteries, treatment with the device should ease the cramping, discoloration and numbness of PAD while reducing possible side effects. Also, who doesn't want to have a video of their arteries being unclogged for their grandchildren? Judging by the video below, ew, not me, actually.

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