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"I would get the pain in my calf and then in my upper thigh muscles and that would be really painful," explains Irvin.
James Irvin has peripheral artery disease. In time, he could of lost part of his leg. Plaque blockages in his right leg artery prevented blood flow.
The traditional treatment involves stringing a catheter balloon inside to push aside the plaque and often a metal stent. But this can be problematic in the leg.
"You bend your knee and you bend the stent. Over therefore it can create stent fractures over time," said Dr. Mason Weiss, a cardiologist.
Now, cardiologists at Centinela Freeman Hospital can pulverize the plaque with a new FDA approved device called the Diamondback 360°.
First the guide wire is fished down the artery. Then the high speed drill spins safely on the wire.
"It sands the bad plaque out of there. It keeps the good tissue, the part we want to keep, from being damaged," said Dr. Weiss.
Although Dr. Mason Weiss is one of the first to use this technology in Southern California, he says it's too new to know the long term success, but he says even keeping an artery open a short time is highly beneficial.
"If you can achieve a good size lumen even for 30 to 90 days that alone will save the leg," said Dr. Weiss.
Complications of this treatment are the same as any angioplasty procedure: infection at the puncture site and reaction to contrast dye. Irvin says after the new procedure he felt instant relief.
"He cleared that blockage up here and that made my whole right leg feel better," said Irvin.
Besides Centinela Freeman Hospital in Inglewood, at least five area hospitals offer this procedure.