QMG Cardiologist Dr. Adam Rafi (pictured front row on the far left) is pictured with members of the QMG Cardiac Cath Lab team.

Quincy Medical Group (QMG) marked a significant milestone this summer by performing the first peripheral atherectomy at the QMG Surgery Center. While this procedure is not new in our area, it has predominantly been carried out in a hospital setting. However, in other regions, the procedure has been performed in an outpatient surgical centers for many years.

An atherectomy is a surgical treatment for peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, which affects 8 to 12 million people in the United States, especially those over 50. PAD develops when your arteries become clogged with plaque — fatty deposits that limit blood flow to your legs. Just like clogged arteries in the heart, clogged arteries in the legs mean you are at risk for having a heart attack or stroke.

QMG Cardiologist Adam Rafi, MD, performed the first atherectomy at the QMG Surgery and said the procedure is a minimally invasive way to treat PAD. A long, narrow tube/catheter with a blade, laser or rotating device on the end helps scrape away, dissolve, or break up plaque without making a large incision.

“The procedure helps restore healthy blood flow and relieve the symptoms of pain/decreased exercise tolerance from peripheral arteries disease. It also helps maintain longer term vessel patency in calcified vessels,” Dr. Rafi stated. “It is minimally invasive, and can avoid open surgery to help obtain an open calcified vessel with less trauma on the vessel.

The common risk factors associated with PAD are advanced age, diabetes, smoking, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and history of concomitant coronary artery disease. The most common symptom is painful muscle cramping in the hips, thighs or calves when walking, climbing stairs or exercising.

Some patients diagnosed with PAD can be treated with lifestyle changes, medications or both. However, in more severe cases, an atherectomy is the best treatment option for patients.

“One of the primary uses for this treatment option is for severely hard vessels with peripheral calcium that balloon angioplasty or stenting alone may be challenging to perform,” Dr. Rafi said. “It is used in the coronary arteries as well as for peripheral vascular disease. The goal is to modify the blockage/plaque and debulk it to maintain vessel patency long term.”

For more information on the QMG Surgery Center and the QMG Cardiology team, visit quincymedgroup.com.