AUSTIN (KXAN) - Just a few months ago, Peter Gulla could not walk without a lot of pain. He had a blocked carotid artery that carries blood from the heart to the brain.
He was at great risk for stroke.
Gulla enrolled in a Food and Drug Administration-approved clinical trial at Heart Hospital of Austin to place a stent in the carotid artery using a new approach with a system called Silk Road.
"I was sluggish and tired, and I just didn't feel right, but now I feel great," said Gulla.
Vascular surgeon Dr. Mazin Foteh performed his surgery. It was the first in the trial in Texas.
"The procedure itself is a traditional carotid stent, however the approach has changed," said Dr. Foteh. "We're now directly accessing the carotid artery as opposed to going through the groin which is the traditional approach."
The Silk Road System being studied is also unique, because it temporarily reverses the blood flow direction. It pushes any plaque that may break off from the carotid artery away from the brain protecting it. It all adds up to less risk for the patient.
"It's actually a very exciting time, because this may actually change therapies in the future," said Dr. Foteh. "Being a part of clinical trials is groundbreaking work."
Something so life changing for Gulla took less than an hour to complete. Recovery was quick.
"Twenty-four hours you're in and you're out and you feel like a new man," said Gulla.
Dr. Foteh is with Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons working at Heart Hospital of Austin. They were chosen to be among 25 groups in the world to do the trial. It is for primarily high-risk patients.
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