Self Regional first hospital in Southeast to use new technology to fight carotid artery disease

GREENWOOD – Self Regional Medical Center was the first hospital in the Southeast to have vascular surgeons use the latest generation of stent technology to fight carotid artery disease.

Surgeons from Carolina Vascular Institute who perform procedures at Self Regional are equipped with leading-edge technology that allows them to battle the disease in an innovative, less invasive way.

Drs. Rick Hobson, Jeff Lanford and Tod Hanover make up a vascular team that helps the hospital continue to meet its mission of bringing advanced care closer to home.

“This new carotid stent is just part of the technological revolution going on in our endovascular field,” Dr. Hobson said. “We are applying similar techniques to kidney artery angioplasty and leg artery angioplasty, making these procedures safer and more durable.”

The carotid arteries are two large blood vessels on either side of the neck and are the main sources of blood to the brain.

The traditional treatment for blocked carotid arteries – a leading cause of stroke – is a surgical procedure that requires an incision in the neck through which plaque is removed. In certain patients for whom surgery poses a high risk, carotid artery disease can be treated with an innovative method that requires only a small incision in the groin, arm or wrist through which a stent is fed and placed at the site of the blockage.

During the stenting procedure, Boston Scientific Corp.’s FilterWire EZ™ Embolic Protection System and the NexStent® Carotid Stent are delivered to the blocked artery by inserting a catheter into a vessel, usually the femoral artery in the leg.

After the FilterWire system, which acts as a guide wire, is in place, the NexStent Carotid Stent – a small, flexible roll of wire mesh – is placed at the site of the blockage, where it expands and holds the walls of the artery open. The FilterWire system is designed to capture plaque particles that could break free during stenting. Once the stent is in place, the catheter and FilterWire system are removed. The stent remains in place to hold the artery open and restore blood flow to the brain. “I like the NexStent system because of the simplicity and reliability of the filter component and the flexibility of the stent to conform to the natural curve of the carotid artery,” Dr. Hobson said. “Most patients should still consider traditional carotid surgery when indicated, but for high-risk patients, the new carotid stent systems can be lifesaving.”

Carotid artery disease occurs when plaque, a substance made up of cholesterol, fats and other elements, builds up in the carotid arteries. As plaque deposits accumulate, the carotid arteries become increasingly narrowed. When the narrowing becomes severe, blood flow to the brain can become partially or fully interrupted.

A stroke occurs when part of the brain is permanently damaged by a lack of blood flow. The majority of strokes occur when a buildup of plaque or a blood clot blocks an artery and circulation to the brain is cut off. Carotid artery disease is the source of most of these blockages.

The implantation of stents in blood vessels throughout the body is routinely performed, although stent placement in the carotid arteries is a more recent procedure. Carolina Vascular surgeons have been using older stent systems for about two years. They began using the new Boston Scientific technology in January, a month after Food and Drug Administration approval.

“Doctor Lanford, Doctor Hanover and I are excited to provide this advanced care to our patients in the Lakelands region,” Dr. Hobson said.

Self Regional has the top-ranked vascular surgical program in South Carolina. HealthGrades®, a national, independent organization that ranks hospitals from across the country on specific procedures and patient outcomes, awarded Self Regional the Vascular Care Excellence Award and the top grade of five stars. Self’s vascular program is ranked among the top 5 percent in the nation.

Research shows stroke causes one of every 10 deaths worldwide, making it one of the top three killers on the planet. Carotid artery disease is the cause of more than half of all strokes. The South is widely known as “The Stroke Belt” because of the high incidence of stroke.

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