HOUSTON (June 23, 2010)

Doctors at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital are one of the first in the area to use a newly FDA cleared device that removes potentially deadly artery clogging plaque in leg arteries for patients suffering from peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a chronic condition that affects nearly 12 million Americans. PAD occurs when plaque builds up on the inside walls of blood vessels, causing a blockage of blood flow to the extremities, and is often associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and aging.

The Jetstream® Atherectomy System is the first on the market capable of treating an entire spectrum of disease found in the PAD patient, including hard and soft plaque, calcium, thrombus and fibrotic lesions with consistent clinical results. The Jetstream catheter is equipped with tiny rotating blades and a vacuum that cuts through accumulated plaque in the legs, then vacuums away the debris left behind. This treatment has the potential to reduce procedure time and minimize vessel trauma, which can mean fewer complications for patients. Removing the loose plaque also minimizes the potential for that plaque to travel back through the leg's arteries and cause another blockage.

"This treatment represents an innovative and minimally invasive solution to clear blockages in the peripheral arteries, restoring blood flow and effectively treating the disease without surgery," according to Dr. Karan Bhalla, cardiologist at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital. Dr. Bhalla was the first physician at Memorial Hermann Southeast to treat a patient using the device.

PAD usually affects adults from age 60 to 80, but patients can be younger. Further, while people with elevated cholesterol, smokers or those with a history of heart disease can develop PAD, many people do not realize they have blocked arteries. PAD is responsible for more than 150,000 leg amputations each year and only about 400,000 patients receive the endovascular intervention they need. In addition, many patients are poor surgical candidates for whom surgery can be life threatening.

Jetstream is now in use at more than 100 centers across the country, including New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York, St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, Cardiovascular Consultants of Washington in Seattle, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Atlanta and Leesburg Regional Hospital in Leesburg, Florida, and has been used to successfully treat more than 600 patients suffering from PAD to date.