Medicine: Arterial Plumbing

Hardening of the arteries can lead to gangrene—if the vessels become so clogged that too little blood gets through. From a plumber's-eye view, the solution looks obvious: scrape out whatever is blocking the vessels.

Doctors have hesitated to use the plumber's method because they feared that peeling off the inner lining (endothelium), along with the dead tissue, calcium and fatlike substances, might lead to dangerous clotting. A team of five French doctors, headed by Dr. Louis Bazy, chief surgeon of Paris' St. Louis Hospital, has now apparently learned the trick. Dr. Bazy's team splits open the artery (in extreme cases for as...

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