Freezing Treatment Unblocks Arteries

New Treatment Enhancement to Traditional Angioplasty for Patients with Painful Blocked Arteries

Feb 18, 2004

New York, NY

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia First to Perform Treatment in New York City

A new freezing treatment offers relief to patients with peripheral vascular disease (PVD), a painful condition in which plaque buildup narrows the arteries. In a first for Manhattan, interventional radiologists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia have successfully treated patients using a new enhancement to traditional angioplasty that freezes and breaks up artery plaque.

An estimated 12 million Americans suffer from PVD. The major cause of the condition is atherosclerosis a build-up of fat, calcium, and other substances along the inner lining of the artery. This build-up narrows the artery and reduces blood flow, causing pain and restricted mobility. Untreated, the condition may even necessitate amputation.

This freezing technique, known as cryoplasty, is an exciting new tool and is useful for even the most challenging PVD cases, says Dr. Ziv J. Haskal, director of the Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia and professor of radiology at Columbia University College of Physicians Surgeons. For patients, the procedure can eliminate pain and may necessitate fewer visits to treat recurrent disease of the artery.

Compared to the traditional angioplasty, there is expected to be a reduced risk of restenosis, an inflammatory response that leads to the re-clogging of a previously opened vessel, says Dr. John Rundback, attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia and associate professor of clinical radiology at Columbia University College of Physicians Surgeons.

During the one-hour outpatient procedure, a catheter is inserted through an artery in the patient's groin or arm and carefully guided to the site of the blockage. Once the tube reaches the narrowed artery, a small balloon at the end of the tube is inflated. In angioplasty, the pressure from the inflated balloon presses plaque against the artery wall to improve blood flow. In cryoplasty, the balloon is filled with a liquid nitrous oxide, which evaporates into a gas upon entering the balloon, causing the balloon to inflate and cool to -10º C (14º F). The artery plaque cracks when it freezes, allowing for more uniform opening of the vessel, and, unlike traditional angioplasty reduces the chance that scar tissue will form.

If there is any residual artery narrowing or damage to the artery wall, a small expandable wire mesh tube called a stent may be inserted into the artery. However, this is less likely in cryoplasty, says Dr. Rundback, because the technique leaves the artery wall smoother with fewer tears. Cryoplasty may also facilitate better healing.

Nine months after treatment with CryoPlasty, 85 percent of treated leg arteries remained open, according to interim results of a multi-center study sponsored by CryoVascular Systems, Inc. The patented freezing technique, the PolarCath™ Peripheral Dilatation System, is manufactured by CryoVascular Systems, Inc., of Los Gatos, California.

Interventional radiologists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia are experts in non-surgical treatment of peripheral vascular disease, kidney and carotid vascular disease, uterine fibroids, deep vein thrombosis, liver cancer and aortic aneurysms.