Arnold's Story: Balloon Cryoplasty
After three failed angioplasties, Arnold Levy was told his only choice was major bypass surgery to correct the artery blockages in his leg. At 64 years old and the sales manager of a busy car dealership, he was hoping to avoid surgery and the four to six-week recovery time. Because his blood vessels had become clogged by fatty deposits known as plaque, Arnold was not getting good blood flow to his feet. He was experiencing severe leg pain and stiffness and having trouble walking. Arnold was hoping for another option … he found one at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.
“I had heard about Newton-Wellesley Hospital’s outstanding vascular surgery program so I thought I would schedule an appointment and see what procedures they might be offering.” A long tradition of excellence in critical care, innovation, education and research is central to the vascular surgery collaboration between Newton-Wellesley and Massachusetts General Hospital. Under the direction of Christopher J. Kwolek, MD, Chief of Vascular Surgery at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Vascular Surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Hospital provides access to highly regarded vascular surgeons and state-of-the-art surgical facilities to offer world-class vascular surgery.
“When I met with Dr. Kwolek, he immediately gave me hope that there were other options besides major surgery,” says Arnold. “He gave me peace of mind and said there were a number of treatments he could try before surgery.” As an alternative to surgery, Dr. Kwolek was able to use balloon cryoplasty, a new minimally invasive treatment proven to be successful in opening clogged vessels. By working through a small catheter inserted into the groin, a small balloon is inserted into the blocked blood vessel. The balloon is then filled with nitrous oxide, which turns into a gas that freezes the plaque in the artery, opening the blockage. Minimally invasive surgical techniques, like cryoplasty, benefits patients by resulting in less trauma, lessened hospital stays and, in many cases, outpatient day surgery. After this procedure, Dr. Kwolek was able to once again prolong bypass by using stents to create almost 100 percent blood flow in Arnold’s leg.
“While Mr. Levy may eventually require an open bypass procedure, these endovascular techniques may postpone this for several years without losing the option for an open procedure in the future,” says Dr. Kwolek.
Given the intricacies of the vascular system, vascular surgery requires highly specialized training and skills. The human vascular system is made up of arteries and a multitude of blood vessels that supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body. A variety of conditions can result in vascular blood flow becoming insufficient to meet the body's needs. This collaboration is staffed by surgeons who are recognized authorities in their field and offer the most extensive surgical experience of hospitals nationwide.
“The field of vascular disease management is changing,” says Dr. Kwolek. “The prime benefit to our patients is the ongoing effort to discover, learn and utilize new procedures to treat vascular disease. By using new technology and techniques, we can shorten recovery time and offer patients options that do not involve major surgery. This minimally invasive procedure allowed Mr. Levy to maintain his lifestyle and continue working and providing for his family.”
After his procedures at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Arnold is back on his feet.
“I work at a busy car dealership and am constantly on the go. Before I met with Dr. Kwolek, the pain was really affecting my day-to-day activities. Now, I no longer have stiffness and pain. I have been able to return to work… nothing can slow me down.”
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