Purpose: Percutaneous balloon angioplasty is an accepted technique for the treatment of short segmental stenoses of the iliac and superficial femoral arteries. Some surgeons have not embraced this technique because of lack of training, unfamiliarity with radiologic equipment, or poor-quality fluoroscopy equipment in the operating room. A new technique, ultrasound-directed balloon angioplasty, enables the vascular surgeon to guide the catheter and evaluate the progress of the procedure without the use of radiographic imaging.
Methods: The new catheter is integrated externally into a standard duplex scanner. A spherical brass bead positioned on the catheter shaft in the middle of the balloon is covered with a piezoelectric material. This omnidirectional receiver is connected through a wire to a catheter interface system, which allows the exact position of the balloon to be represented on the screen of a duplex unit. The catheter is advanced under visual control with use of the scanner.
Results: The system has been used to perform balloon angioplasty on 21 lesions (16 superficial femoral, 3 iliac, 2 popliteal arteries) in 17 patients. Procedures in 16 patients were performed percutaneously; in an additional patient bilateral angioplasties were performed during operation. The balloon was successfully positioned in each case with use of ultrasonography alone; each procedure was confirmed by use of angiography. Angioplasty was accomplished in 16 (76%) of 21 with the ultrasound-guided catheter alone. Supplemental use of a high-pressure balloon or atherectomy device was necessary in five patients.
Conclusions: This technique records physiologic and anatomic data in real time so that the progress of the angioplasty can be monitored. In three patients the inadequacy of the initial angioplasty was recognized by a persistent velocity increase but not by angiography. As a result corrective measures were taken. This new procedure allows vascular surgeons to use equipment with which they are familiar, reduces the risk of ionizing radiation and contrast nephropathy, and permits the monitoring of the angioplasty with hemodynamic parameters.