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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Carotid Artery Stenting

Boca Raton News

Local Resident Able to Enjoy Life After New Medical Procedure

Franey Way wasn’t able to garden and tend her flowers outside her Boca Raton home any more.
In fact, she wasn’t able to do much of any of the things she used to enjoy like cooking her favorite meals or making a trip to the local grocery store, after having a series of alarming episodes where her right hand and foot would become numb.

“I discovered it was very difficult to walk and at times I became uncoordinated,” said Way.

After urging from her daughter, the local resident went to the hospital to get checked out.
“I went to the Boca Raton Community Hospital. They admitted me right away, observed me and took tests. After a few days, they diagnosed me with severe carotid artery disease in my neck. It affects the blood supply to you brain, which is why I was having little episodes, which were actually tiny strokes called TIA’s. They told me surgery was too risky for me because of my medical history and that my blockage wasn’t severe enough to take that risk.

So, they sent me home with medication treatment,” said Way.
But the numbness and difficulty to walk started to become worse and more frequent for the 79-year-old resident.

“It was a feeling of clumsiness and lack of coordination. It was getting worse and more frequent,” said Way, who then decided to go to her family doctor, Matthew Pinto.

Since Way was at too-high risk for surgery Dr. Pinto referred her to Dr. William Julien, a Board Certified Interventional Radiologist who practices full-time endovascular surgery in Margate.

“The first time I walked into the examination room, I didn’t feel intimidated by him. He was like an old friend walking into the room,” said Way.

Julien checked out his new patient and thought she would be a perfect candidate for an FDA approved carotid stent research procedure since she was considered too-high risk for traditional carotid endartectomy surgery. The procedure offers a life-saving alternative for these types of patients, according to Julien.

Carotid Stenting is a minimally invasive procedure performed by inserting a catheter in the femoral artery passing it through the blood system and up into the carotid artery using X-ray guidance to navigate through the bloodstream. Then, a novel filter device which looks like a tiny butterfly net is first inserted and positioned in the carotid artery downstream from the narrowing. The filter captures any particles that are inadvertently dislodged during the procedure while maintaining blood flow to the brain.

Next, an angioplasty balloon expands the carotid narrowing followed by placement of a tubular metal mesh called a stent, which acts as a scaffolding to hold the artery open. The final step is removing the filter along with any debris that was trapped during the procedure.

“Franey’s a high risk patient, too-high risk for surgery and gets relegated to a category where no one wants to touch her. Her right carotid artery was closed off because of radiation damage because of that, blood flow to the brain was coming from the left artery and supplying both. The stroked would have been more devastating,” said Dr. Julien, an endovascular surgeon at North West Medical Center, who was involved in the national research trials for the procedure and was the first South Florida physician to implant the newly approved filter device.

Julien’s practice will serve as one of a few training sites, for other physicians who would like to learn how to administer the procedure where patients do not have to be put under anesthiea.

Way said the procedure was painless and took only about an hour and she has fully recovered. Way said now she can enjoy her life.

“Before I didn’t go shopping or I couldn’t have been gardening or out there watching my butterflies. Most of the time I was sure I was gong to fall,” said Way. “Now, all the symptoms are gone. I do my laundry. I do my cooking and I manage the house. I have no more episodes of numbness.”

Way said she encourages others diagnosed with same illness never to give up hope.

“Never give up. Keep looking for a solution and be open to change. Medicine is always changing. What we’ve done for years isn’t always what we should keep on doing,” said Way. For more Information, www.southfloridavascular.com.

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