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New procedure offers relief for severe leg pain

Icy cold feet and leg cramps so severe that you have to get out of bed and sleep in a recliner with your feet up -- signs of peripheral vascular disease, caused by the buildup of plaque that disrupts normal blood flow in the arteries.

The latest solution: using the SilverHawk™ Plaque Excision System, a new FDA-approved device which safely removes the plaque.

SilverHawk uses a rice-sized rotating blade to shave away large amounts of plaque from the artery wall, restoring blood flow. As it is shaved away, the plaque collects on the device’s tip and is removed from the patient.

The SilverHawk device is a powerful tool to treat vascular disease of the legs while being less invasive than surgery.

Traditional treatment methods focus on creating a larger channel for the blood to flow by pushing back the plaque with angioplasty or a stent.

Open bypass surgery is also used to treat peripheral vascular disease (PVD) effectively, but with a longer recovery time plus scarring. Patients who undergo the minimally-invasive SilverHawk procedure at Baptist Health Louisville, are usually up and about the next day. 

This procedure is appropriate for patients with partial and even some complete blockages of the leg arteries. The new technology shows significant promise in an area of the body where balloons and stents have had marginal results. The SilverHawk has not replaced the use of surgical bypass.

Peripheral vascular disease affects nearly 12 million people in the United States. Symptoms include severe pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the leg.

Left untreated, PVD can lead to amputations. Those at risk of developing PVD include patients with high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Other contributing factors include obesity, smoking and an inactive lifestyle.