Courtyard of the Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla. Courtesy Scripps Health
Courtyard of the Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla. Courtesy Scripps Health

A physician at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla was the first in the state to use a new treatment for peripheral artery disease, inserting a drug-coated balloon into the leg of an 82-year-old Clairemont woman.

The IN.PACT Admiral device was approved for use last month by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, treating a condition that constricts blood vessels — leading to a risk of heart attack, stroke, wounds that won’t heal and gangrene. Around 8 to 12 million Americans suffer from the disease, according to Scripps Health.

Traditional methods of treatment didn’t work on the patient. Ralla Rubin suffered from burning pain in her lower leg beginning two years ago, and it prevented her from walking to a nearby grocery store or taking part in exercise classes, according to Scripps Health.

“Those who do suffer from exercise-related symptoms typically develop a progressive decline in their ability to remain active, yet they often chalk up their symptoms to just getting older,” said Dr. Curtiss Stinis, who implanted the balloon on Tuesday.

He said the disease can come without symptoms, so some people won’t even realize they have it.

The physician said once peripheral artery disease is diagnosed, patients can benefit from quitting smoking, changing their diet and taking cholesterol medication.

“When conservative measures fail, we typically recommend intervention to mechanically improve blood flow,” Stinis said. “In these cases, the drug- coated balloon gives us a new and important minimally invasive treatment option.”

Drug-coated balloons are designed to help restore blood flow by reopening blocked arteries while delivering a medication to the artery wall.

When the balloon is inflated, it pushes away a build-up of plaque to create a channel for blood flow, and the medication on the balloon surface is deposited into the artery wall, according to Scripps Health. The balloon is then removed with only the medication left behind.

Stinis said the new procedure should reduce the need for repeat treatments, which were common with other methods.

The device made by Medtronic, based in Dublin, Ireland, was used several times around the U.S. this week, according to the company.

—City News Service