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Forrest City Medical Center Surgeon Performs Arkansas’ First of Kind Surgery

Mar 1, 2018

A new surgical procedure for dialysis patients was recently performed for the first time in Arkansas, and the procedure took place at Forrest City Medical Center at the hands of surgeon Jeremy Whitt, M.D., F.A.C.S. The procedure is designed to improve a patient’s blood flow and reduce the number of future surgeries required to prevent blockage of their blood vessels. The surgeon inserts a drug-coated, balloon-like catheter in the patient’s blood vessel. This new type of catheter is designed to improve the patient’s quality of life by reducing the number of interruptions in treatment for access point maintenance.

Dialysis patients are patients who are experiencing kidney failure and require the treatments to purify their blood, removing waste products that otherwise would be removed by properly-functioning kidneys. A patient requiring dialysis typically receives an average of three intravenous treatments every week. These patients frequently experience blockages in their blood vessels that can impact their treatment. This new surgical procedure, created specifically for patients receiving hemodialysis for end-stage renal disease (ESRD), is designed to increase the length of time between procedures required to clear blockages that result from frequent accessing of the blood vessels.

“Patients with ESRD are typically very sick and undergo nearly constant treatment,” remarked Dr. Jeremy Whitt, the FCMC surgeon who performed this first-of-its-kind procedure in Arkansas. “This new procedure with this drug-coated balloon gives our patients a new option to maintain their AV fistula function for a longer period of time. That can mean less time in the hospital because of fewer blockages of the patient’s blood vessel that require repair.” Assisting Dr. Whitt in this new surgical procedure were Susan Thigpen, ST, and Sarah Vondran, RN, both employees of FCMC’s Surgery Department.

Many patients undergoing hemodialysis treatment depend on an AV fistula, or a connection of an artery to a vein created by a vascular surgeon, in order to receive their treatments. Hemodialysis patients frequently experience blockages created by repeated access or narrowing of the blood vessel – known as restenosis – which can impact their treatment. As a result, some patients may require as many as eight reinterventions each year to maintain AV fistula function, requiring more time in the hospital. More than 2-million patients around the world are currently undergoing hemodialysis treatment.

Vascular Access for Hemodialysis – National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: