CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — These days, more and more hospital procedures are done through tiny catheters. Through a small incision, doctors explore major arteries and fix problems.
Researchers hope to make the procedure safer for some patients with borderline kidney problems.
Before July, Buzzy Allsbrook, 66, could not work in his yard or do much of anything active.
"[I had] shortness of breath, my leg gradually got worse and worse. I just couldn't use it. I was for all practical purposes, crippled," he said.
An artery in Allsbrook's leg was clogged, so was an artery to a kidney. Through cauterization, doctors could unclog and stent the arteries.
The procedure uses contrast dyes that show up on X-ray monitors.
"They were afraid the dye was going to hurt my kidney," Allsbrook said.
Most people can handle the dye in their system, but it is a concern for people with borderline kidney problems.
"We can push them over the edge and put them in dialysis for the rest of their lives," said Dr. Mauricio Cohen, an interventional cardiologist at University of North Carolina Hospitals.
Cohen included Allsbrook in a clinical trial at UNC Hospitals using a special device.
The Benephit Infusion System is a two-pronged catheter that delivers medication to protect the kidneys from the toxic dye.
In the past, the protective drug was delivered through the entire vascular system to little effect. But, if given directly to the kidneys in a higher dose, researchers hope to see better results.
Allsbrook is thankful that his retirement does not have to be spent in a chair.
"Well, whatever they did, it worked like a charm. I mean I can run, I'm going back to the gym," he said.
UNC Hospitals is the only site in North Carolina currently enrolling patients in the national study using the device.