/ Modified oct 1, 2013 4:22 p.m.

New Procedure Aids Doctors Unblock Arteries of PAD Patients

Peripheral artery disease is a serious illness in which plaque buildup blocks blood flow in arteries away from the heart.

(VIDEO: AZPM)

About 10 percent of Americans will be afflicted with peripheral artery disease. PAD is a serious illness in which plaque buildup blocks blood flow in arteries away from the heart. If ignored, it can lead to extreme cases like heart attacks or amputation.

PAD is most commonly found in the legs, and Dr. Miguel Montero, from the Tucson Medical Center said that some people feel no symptoms. Others may feel pain or discomfort when walking or doing everyday activities.

In the last 20 years, new, minimally invasive techniques have come forward to help those with PAD.

Dr. Luis Leon, also from TMC, said one method replaces scalpels and typical incisions with a needle stick.

"Through that needle stick, we can apply wires and very small catheters to cross the arteries that are blocked," Leon explained. "Over those wires we can apply balloons, stints and other tools to restore the circulation or open the blockage."

The new procedure provides doctors with an array of tools that allows them to help patients without taking any drastic measures.

"(The tools) help us in basically cleaning up your own arteries without us having to substitute it with new either plastic or vein arteries," Montero said.

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