The first three prosthetic bypass graft surgeries using the patient's stem cells to treat peripheral vascular disease (PVD) has been performed by surgeons from the University of Louisville.
PVD develops when arteries become clogged with plaque-fatty deposits that limit blood flow to the legs. These clogged arteries significantly increase the risk for a heart attack or stroke.
The condition causes weakness or pain in the legs, and in severe cases can lead to amputation.
The new procedure is in Phase I clinical trials and uses a new fully automated system that involves isolating the patient's own stem cells and then coating the inside of the synthetic vein graft to reduce chances of failure caused by clotting.
It involves harvesting fatty tissue from each patient through liposuction. The fatty tissues are processed to concentrate vascular stem cells, which are then attached onto standard prosthetic grafts in the operating room directly at what is known as 'point-of-care'.
"We have many more procedures to perform before this technique can be approved by the FDA, but our initial results are excellent and show great promise in helping to alleviate the pain and suffering thousands of patients experience from PVD," said Charles B. Ross, chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapeutics.
"The best-case scenario is to be able to bypass long blockages using a patient's own vein. Our challenge with prosthetic grafts is coming up with a way to make them more closely resemble the patient's own blood vessels and increase the long-term survival of the graft," he added.