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Tennis Star gets her active life back

Vicki Berner

Vicki Berner photoPain caused by a blocked artery in her left leg forced Fountain Hills resident Vicki Berner to give up the Jazzercise class she enjoyed three or four times a week.

Because of her peripheral arterial disease—which occurs when a fatty material called plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your legs and arms—even walking too much was a problem.

That is, until Scottsdale Healthcare physician Walid Alami, MD provided a solution when others couldn’t.

“I was in agony. I had to stop because I’d be in tears by the end of my Jazzercise class. It was frustrating because I’ve been an athlete all my life,” says Vicki, a retired Canadian tennis star who played Wimbledon 10 times.

She went to one doctor, who performed an angioplasty, which involves inflating a small balloon inside the artery to open it up. It didn’t work.

Another suggested doing bypass surgery on the artery—something Vicki really didn’t want to do. She had experienced “a lot of pain and aggravation” after a bypass was performed on her right leg years earlier in New York. Vicki recalls spending five or six days in the hospital and another five or six weeks recovering.

By comparison, Dr. Alami’s expertise and use of minimally invasive techniques enabled her to be out of the hospital the same day with “instant” relief of her leg pain. Amazingly, Vicki played in her golf club’s championship tournament a couple days later—and won! She also was back to her favorite Jazzercise class within a week.

An interventional cardiologist, Dr. Alami performed an angiogram which revealed a complete blockage in an artery in Vicki’s left leg. He used a FlowCardia crosser device, which is a high-tech ultrasonic catheter, to break apart the calcified plaque from inside the artery. Then, Dr. Alami used balloon angioplasty—which involves inflating a tiny balloon inside the artery—to restore blood flow. Lastly, he inserted two self-expanding stents inside Vicki’s troublesome artery to keep it open and enable blood to flow.

“Dr. Alami explained everything and walked me through exactly what was involved. He was wonderful. I wish I would have found him much earlier,” says Vicki, who was referred to Dr. Alami by a golfing friend.

Vicki’s procedure was done at Scottsdale Healthcare Thompson Peak Hospital, which Vicki notes is “beautiful with a great staff.”

“I feel like I got my life back,” she says gratefully.

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