Innovative Surgery Which May Help to Prevent Amputation

A Mesa physicians group and Banner Heart Hospital are testing a new surgical procedure to improve blood flow and prevent amputations in patients with leg arteries that are blocked because of poor circulation.

The surgery is for patients with a health condition known as critical limb ischemia, or poor leg circulation. Most patients with this condition can improve blood flow with a heart bypass or angioplasty, but a small percentage of patients may not be eligible for such procedures.

The MarrowStim PAD Kit study, sponsored by Warsaw, Ind.-based Biomet Inc., involves extracting cells from a patient’s bone marrow and injecting them into the patient’s leg to promote blood-vessel growth.

Dr. Henry Tarlian, a vascular surgeon with Mesa-based Western Vascular Institute, said the procedure may heal wounds, lessen pain and prevent limb loss. Health risks for patients who enroll in the trial are similar to any general surgery, Tarlian said.

Amputation is the last-ditch medical procedure for patients who face this condition. For those who cannot be treated with heart bypass or angioplasty, Biomet estimates 40 percent must undergo amputation within six months, and nearly one-third of those patients will require long-term care at home or in a rehabilitation facility. Patients with diabetes or cardiac condition face the highest risk for this condition.

Banner Heart Hospital is the only Arizona hospital in the clinical trial. Biomet expects to enroll more than 150 patients at 20 sites nationwide.

Since this is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients will not know whether they are receiving the bone-marrow treatment or a placebo.

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