PITTSBURGH - Tom Krigar loves his Labradors and the outdoors, but until a few months ago, he could barely walk without severe leg pain.
"Just grabbed your calf, like you had a muscle spasm. That's how bad it hurt sometimes," recalled Krigar, 65.
Doctors diagnosed Krigar with peripheral artery disease, or PAD. He underwent surgery to clear the blockage, but then doctors discovered Krigar's leg was worse than expected.
"He said I went in with my regular catheter and this artery is 100 percent blocked," Krigar said.
"We start by actually puncturing the artery and then inserting a wire or sheath, which is a straw that allows us to take pictures," Chess said.
It's called the Pantheris, and it allows surgeons to see the plaque, then cut away and remove it during the procedure.
"The novel thing about this technology is that it affords us the opportunity to stay in the center of the vessel," Chess detailed.
Doctors say there is also less risk of damaging the artery wall and a better chance that the vessel will remain open.
Krigar said he was on his feet quickly and pain-free within weeks.
"It was like day and night," said Krigar.
The FDA approved the Pantheris in March. Surgeons use it alone, or in combination with another instrument, called the Ocelot, to open arteries that are 100 percent blocked.
Allentown, PA 18102