What is lithoplasty?

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), also called peripheral vascular disease (PVD), is a condition in which blood flow to the legs and feet is limited because of “clogged” arteries due to plaque buildup in the artery walls. Calcium, a key component of plaque, has the added effect of stiffening the arteries and producing lesions that further affect blood flow. The condition causes significant pain with walking and in severe cases may lead to amputation.

Until recently it has been difficult to treat people who have calcified PAD with standard treatments such as balloon angioplasty and stenting due to the delicate nature of the arteries and the difficulty in breaking up calcification. Thanks to a new technology that’s been cleared by the FDA, Lankenau Heart Institute interventional cardiologists will be better able to help these patients. The technology is called the Shockwave Medical Lithoplasty System, or just Lithoplasty®.

Bryn Mawr Hospital was the first hospital in the Philadelphia region to offer Lithoplasty.

Lithoplasty uses an existing and effective technology called lithotripsy, commonly used to break up kidney stones with sound waves, and balloon angioplasty technology that allows entry into the artery and gentle expansion of blockages and artery walls. The procedure helps restore blood flow and poses less risk of injury to the artery walls.


Heart and Vascular Care

The cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons at Main Line Health work together to improve the detection and prevention of heart disease with the latest treatment options.