Surgery: Hewing the Fat

When he began to feel pain, coldness and weakness in his left leg, the 65-year-old amputee recognized all too well the classic symptoms of hardening of the arteries. The disease that had already claimed his right leg was now attacking his left. As a last resort, two young doctors from the New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn suggested trying a new surgical technique that they had only tested on animals and human cadavers. Their method, they said, might save the leg.

The problem the surgeons faced was familiar. An artery consists of two...

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