Now, doctors are testing a new tech tool to help them remove the problem without removing limbs.
Similar to a blockage you'd find in a clogged heart, Detroit Medical Center Doctor Mahir Elder took out vial full of plaque of an artery in a patient's leg. It was the result of peripheral arterial disease.
"This is a very critical disease that is obstructing blood supply to the feet," Dr. Mahir Elder, medical director of endovascular medicine at the DMC Cardiovascular Institute and assistant program director of interventional fellowship at WSU School of Medicine, told Action News.
Between eight and ten-million people in the U.S. have P.A.D. Every year it costs 200 thousand their limbs.
"Oh, I was fearful of amputation," Joe Kalish, who suffers from peripheral arterial disease, told Action News.
Joe Kalish has been struggling with P.A.D for more than a decade.
"I'd walk from the bedroom to the living room and i had to sit down. My legs would just ache," Joe said.
But recently he took part in the connect-two trial led in part by doctor Elder. It's testing the ocelot, a device giving doctors a new view inside vessels.
"It uses ultrasound technology as it swipes in a 360 degree motion and subsequently giving us a three dimensional image," Dr. Elder said. "It is a game changer because now we can identify the vessel anatomy while we're inside the vessel."
The doctor says these images help him stay in the middle of the vessel while he shaves away the buildup or blasts it with a laser. The more center he is the better chances it won't close up again.
"The trial has shown that the patients are getting better results right away," Dr. Elder said.
As for Joe, his circulation's back and his pain is almost completely gone.
"It's great. It's like a child doing his first steps all over again that's how great it makes me feel." Joe said.
The connect two trial testing the ocelot is now closed, but, while the technology awaits FDA approval hospitals that took part in the study are allowed to continue treating patients with the ocelot.
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