Peripheral artery disease is caused by a buildup of fatty material, or plaque, inside the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet. The plaque interferes with blood flow and may cause pain, fatigue or burning in the feet or legs when walking and numbness or decreased temperature compared to the rest of the body when at rest.
“If you think you have a problem - maybe you’re having trouble walking because of cramping, or wounds on your feet aren’t healing quickly, it is important to see your family doctor and tell them about your symptoms,” said Darryl Manley, Cath Lab manager at Wooster Community Hospital (WCH). Not only can peripheral artery disease lead to severe problems with wound healing and infections if untreated, but it greatly increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Smoking, obesity, diabetes, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all increase the risk of peripheral artery disease. Regular checkups play an important role in prevention and early diagnosis of the disease.
The condition can often be managed by lifestyle changes or medication, but in some cases surgery may be required. The Wooster Community Hospital Cath Lab staff can perform diagnostic tests to pinpoint blockages as well as procedures such as angioplasty and atherectomy to open up blood vessels and remove plaque, Manley said.
For more information about services available at the WCH Cath Lab, call the hospital at 330-263-8100 or visit their website at http://www.woosterhospital.org.
As marketing assistant at Wooster Community Hospital (WCH), Gerri Cremer knows the hospital’s ins and outs. But she gained a new appreciation for her workplace when she experienced it from the other side, as a patient undergoing a heart catheterization. “I received excellent, professional care, just like every other patient receives. I’m really proud of our hospital,” she said.
“My Mom had a heart cath done years ago, and I remember it as being a scary experience at the time. But when I had mine done, it was less painful or scary than going to the dentist,” Cremer said. “All I remember is going in and coming out—whatever medication they give to help with pain also helps you forget the experience.”
Heart caths are performed in the hospital’s Cath Lab, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in July. “The lab has grown to a stage where our cardiologists are doing a majority of procedures here, with an excellent safety record,” said Dr. Cyril Ofori, Cath Lab director. “It serves our patients well, and we are looking forward to doing more in the future.”
Heart caths are just one of the many services offered at the Cath Lab. “We are a combination cardiac and peripheral lab,” said Darryl Manley, who has been the Cath Lab manager for the past 11 years and oversees its day-to-day operations.
On the cardiac side, the Cath Lab performs diagnostic heart caths like Cremer’s, often as a follow-up to an abnormal stress test result. Another procedure, known as a cardioversion, uses an electric current to bring the heart back into normal rhythm.
Cardiologists at WCH also do pacemaker and defibrillator insertions and battery changes. Doctors Cyril Ofori, Paul Moodispaw and Alex Nicolozakes perform the majority of cardiac procedures at the Cath Lab, while Dr. Emile Daoud, section director of electrophysiology and professor of clinical medicine at the OSU Medical Center, also comes in at least once a month to do defibrillation procedures. “It’s nice to have his expertise here in Wooster,” said Manley.
The peripheral side of the Cath Lab focuses on other, non-cardiac blood vessels. “We check for blockages in those blood vessels and can fix them here at the hospital, unlike the arteries in the heart,” said Manley. “Under current Ohio laws, we can’t perform cardiac stents here because you have to have an open heart team available.”
Patients with peripheral blood flow problems often experience pain or cramping in the calves, numbness, non-healing wounds and difficulty walking even short distances without pain.
Several methods are used to repair peripheral blood vessels in the Cath Lab. During an angioplasty, a balloon is used to open up the blood vessel, and a stent or wire mesh may be inserted to prevent it from shutting down. In an atherectomy, plaque is cut out of the blood vessel and removed. Removing the plaque increases blood flow to the legs, decreases pain and allows the patient to walk better, Manley said. “Patients tell us they just can’t believe the difference.”
Another peripheral procedure offered at the WCH Cath Lab is IVC filter installation. An IVC filter looks like an upside-down umbrella and is inserted into the vena cava to trap blood clots.
IVC filters are now easily removable, Manley said. “We’re putting them in patients who are prone to clotting in preparation for another surgery such as a knee replacement. Once they’ve recovered from their surgery and the danger of clotting has passed, we can take the filter back out.”
Dr. Cebul, who does the majority of peripheral procedures at the Cath Lab, performs AAA, or abdominal aortic aneurysm repairs, as well. “The old way was to cut stem to stern, which involved a lot of clamping and a week in the hospital,” Manley said. “Now, we can go in through the groin with just tiny incisions, and fix the problem that way. The patient will spend the night and most go home the next day.”
Altogether, WCH’s Cath Lab performs anywhere from 400-450 heart catheterizations per year and close to 200 peripheral procedures. In addition, they do about 150 pacemakers, defibrillators and cardioversions.
The biggest advantage of having these procedures done at WCH, Manley noted, is the convenience factor for both patients and their families. “We also have a personal and warm community feel,” he added. “Just because a hospital is bigger doesn’t mean you’ll get better care—in fact, I think the opposite is true in some cases. We’ve got a great team here!”
For more information about Wooster Community Hospital’s Cath Lab, visit http://www.woosterhospital.org or call 330-263-8100.
This article was underwritten by Wooster Community Hospital.
Published: February 10, 2012