A new medical technology that can help save limbs and even lives, is now being used by just one doctor in Alabama.
Dr. Sanjeev Saxena is a cardiologist in Fort Payne, and he is using a new device called DABRA to help treat patients that suffer from Peripheral Arterial Disease. The disease is a result of a blockage in an artery, which reduces blood flow to a limb. If left untreated, it could result in an amputation. That is almost what happened to Brenda Hargiss.
Dr. Sanjeev Saxena
"It wasn't pain with me so much as it was just muscle aches and cramps if I would walk very far," Hargiss said.
Hargiss couldn't walk like she used to, but never thought much of it.
"Well I've known something was wrong, but I didn't realize what it was with my legs for a good while, maybe four, five, six years," she said.
After being diagnosed with Peripheral Arterial Disease in her legs, Hargiss knew she needed help. She turned to Dr. Saxena, who was looking to use DABRA to help.
"If we find a blockage, we can use our tools, which now includes DABRA, to pass through a blockage, open it up and restore blood flow," Dr. Saxena said.
DABRA is a liquid filled catheter that emits a laser that can penetrate hard plaque inside an artery. This new technology provides a faster treatment with the laser breaking through blockages in a maximum of two hours. Prior to DABRA, an operation could take up to five hours long and still be unsuccessful. Dr. Saxena said DABRA can save his patients from amputations.
"Forty percent (of his patients), we would not have been able to get through the blockage without DABRA and probably 10 to 15 percent would have lost a limb," Dr. Saxena said.
Hargiss is one of those patients. After a procedure failed when Dr. Saxena did not yet have the new technology, Hargiss started to lose hope.
"I knew I needed it, and I thought, 'how many times is it going to take to get done?'" Hargiss said.
After weeks went by, Dr. Saxena received DABRA and brought Hargiss back in. He successfully cleared blockages in both of her legs with the use of DABRA. She now has no pain in her legs.
Dr. Saxena believes DABRA can change the field of medicine.
"It's better for the patients. It's better for north Alabama," he said.