New technology helps local surgeon save limbs and lives

Dr. George A. Pliagas

Dr. George A. Pliagas

A new technology is helping Dr. George A. Pliagas of Premier Surgical Associates open clogged arteries and possibly prevent amputation for those suffering from diabetes and peripheral artery disease (PAD). Pliagas is the first physician in East Tennessee to use this new technology following a successful procedure today at Mercy Medical Center St. Mary’s.

Pliagas was selected as one of 15 physicians in the nation to use the new Diamondback Predator 360o Orbital PAD System based on his success with the previous platform, Diamondback 360o. The device uses a tiny catheter and tungsten tip with a diamond-coated, rotating crown to grind out artery-blocking plaque and improve blood flow.

The American Heart Association estimates nearly eight million Americans suffer from PAD, a life-threatening condition especially prevalent in diabetics and smokers. The condition, caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries, can result in severe and even debilitating leg pain. When the plaque becomes calcified, treatment is difficult.

Calcified arteries are like uncooked pasta or even concrete, reducing blood flow and causing painful symptoms such as leg muscle cramping, foot or toe pain, and slow healing foot wounds. Previous surgical systems were either unable to break through the blockage or posed the risk of damaging artery walls. The preferred treatments were bypass surgery or amputation.

The Diamondback Predator is providing a new minimally invasive option. “The Diamondback Predator is not only saving limbs, it is saving lives,” said Pliagas. “We are now able to open up arteries that we previously considered unsalvageable. I have had great success with the procedure.”

The Diamondback Predator device’s diamond-coated crown spins in an orbiting motion to sand away at the plaque while preserving the healthy tissue of the arterial wall. The microparticles of plaque created are smaller than a red blood cell and are easily absorbed by the body.

This procedure is not appropriate for all blockages, and limb salvage is not always possible. But the new technology gives physicians another tool to help the growing number of patients suffering from diabetes and PAD.

Pliagas is accepting appointments for second opinion prior to amputation at the Premier Limb Salvage Clinic. To schedule an appointment, call 865-588-8229.

Headquartered in Knoxville, Premier Surgical Associates has 27 surgeons who perform general, vascular, endovascular, vein, bariatric, breast and laparoscopic (minimally invasive) procedures. Premier has offices in Knoxville, Maryville, Oak Ridge, Jefferson City, Lenoir City and Seymour. Premier physicians perform surgeries at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, Parkwest Medical Center, Parkwest Surgery Center, Mercy Medical Center St. Mary’s, St. Mary’s Ambulatory Center, Physicians Surgery Center, Blount Memorial Hospital and Maryville Surgical Center in Maryville, and Advanced Family Surgery Center in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit www.premiersurgical.com.

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