Published on February 06, 2012

Back from peripheral vascular disease

Bernadette is back on her feet after intervention for PVD.

Bernadette LawrenceExcruciating pain in her left leg and an inability to walk more than a few feet had Bernadette Lawrence, 63, feeling old before her time. The pain, which had been holding Bernadette back for several years, finally brought her to The Vascular Center at Mercy Philadelphia, where John B. Fobia, MD, vascular surgeon, was able to pinpoint the problem.

Dr. Fobia found that Bernadette suffered from peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition of the blood vessels that leads to narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet. The blood flow in Bernadette’s left leg was severely compromised.

To correct the condition, Dr. Fobia performed endovascular surgery, an advanced, minimally invasive procedure that involves one small incision, typically in the groin, in order to insert a thin catheter into the blocked blood vessel. The catheter carries a very small balloon to the blockage, which is inflated inside the artery. The balloon pushes aside the blockage. With the artery open, the balloon is removed and blood flow is restored. In Bernadette’s case, a stent was also placed in the artery. This small, flexible wire mesh tube helps keep the blood vessel open.

One-day Vascular Treatments

The Vascular Center at Mercy Philadelphia offers non-invasive endovascular surgical alternatives for treating many conditions, including uterine fibroids, peripheral vascular disease, tumors, cardiac arrhythmia and aneurysms. In all cases, the procedures involve very small incisions, resulting in a faster, more comfortable recovery, less blood loss, less anesthesia and a lower risk of complications. In fact, more than 90 percent of the procedures performed at the Vascular Center are completed in one day, allowing patients to return home within 24 hours. Typically, only over-the-counter pain relief is needed.

“This impressive success rate is in part due to our Vascular Center’s multidisciplinary approach, which addresses all of the patient’s vascular-related problems,” explains Paul Khoury, MD, medical director of the Vascular Center and Interventional Radiology at Mercy Philadelphia. Each patient is seen by three specialists—a cardiologist, a vascular surgeon and an interventional radiologist. We do this because patients with a compromised blood vessel in one location—say the leg—are likely to have plaque buildup in other vessels as well, perhaps in heart and brain arteries. When we address all of the problems, we increase the chances of a successful outcome.”

Once all possible blockages are pinpointed and the patient’s overall health is confirmed, the endovascular surgery itself can begin, using Mercy Philadelphia vascular experts and the most advanced equipment. Despite having successfully performed hundreds of these procedures, Dr. Khoury continues to call the process remarkable. “Everything is done inside the vessel and without open surgery,” he says.

Back on Her Feet

Bernadette, however, chooses a different word to describe her experience at the Vascular Center. “It was a miracle,” she says. “I was home within 24 hours of my procedure, and the pain was completely gone. I walk up to eight blocks a day, visit neighbors and go to the market—whenever I feel like it.”
Healthy Veins. Learn more about our Vascular Center’s specialized treatments.