Doctors use drill to help patients with peripheral artery disease

Device drills through blockages in arteries

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – "I was walking through Miami Airport and all of a sudden I couldn't walk anymore. I had extreme pain in my thighs," said Allen Sikes.

For years, Sikes has suffered from peripheral artery disease (PAD).

"It's basically a build up of plaque inside the vessels and a hardening of the vessels and gradually over time, the plaques get larger and larger and obstruct blood flow down to your legs," said Dr. Warren Swee with South Florida Vascular Associates.

Sikes underwent two surgeries to correct the problem, but when it returned again, he saw Swee.

"We have procedures now where we can go inside the vessels, clean out the plaque, and open up the blood flow down to the legs," said Swee.

Sikes' doctors performed a minimally-invasive surgery using CSI's Orbital Atherectomy System. The device inserted into the arteries drilled away plaque and blockages.

"Instead of pushing the calcifications with a balloon, which he couldn't do, this drills through, and instead of the blood clots stopping the balloon, this drills through," added Swee.

Within days of the procedure, Sikes was taking long walks again with his wife.

"This process is absolutely painless and the results are absolutely amazing," he said.

"A patient that could not walk a quarter block can go out and play a round of golf," said Swee. "It's that dramatic."

Studies say smoking, diabetes, and obesity can all contribute to the risk of developing PAD. Its prevalence has increased 20 percent in the last decade in large part to an aging population.