Norman Melser is an avid runner. The 68-year-old retired landscaper and pastor had an average weekly running distance of around 40 miles and participated in various races each year, including the Pittsburgh marathon.\nBut his ability to run was almost destroyed when he was diagnosed with a limb-threatening condition.\nOn April 17, 2013, Norman felt a sudden, severe pain in his right leg. The pain quickly turned to numbness and weakness, and he sought medical attention at his local hospital. He was transferred to UPMC Presbyterian, but by the time he arrived at the hospital, his right foot was cold with loss of sensory function and increasing weakness.\nA CT scan revealed an artery \u201cballooning\u201d behind his knee, full of clot. Part of this clot migrated down to all three small arteries of his right leg \u2013 allowing no blood flow to the foot.\nNorman had a condition called ischemia, which is restriction of blood flow to the heart caused by a partial or complete blockage of the heart\u2019s arteries. Ischemia can lead to amputation or residual walking disability, depending on the extent of the condition, timing of management, and outcome of overall treatment. Conventional surgical techniques require complex, open clot removal through the small leg arteries and bypass \u2013 many times with less than satisfactory results.\nInstead, Norman\u2019s vascular surgeons at UPMC, Drs. Rabih Chaer and Efthymios Avgerinos, decided to treat him with a minimally invasive procedure called catheter directed thrombolysis. This procedure is the infusion of clot busters through a catheter that\u2019s placed within the clotted arteries through a single puncture of the groin. After 36 hours of surgery, Norman\u2019s clot was removed and his blood was circulating properly\nNow he\u2019s back to the sport he loves. \u201cDoctors Chaer and Avgerinos are very special,\u201d says Norman. \u201cI was extremely appreciative of their encouragement to continue running. Dr. Avgerinos even said before discharge, \u2018Now run for the hills! It\u2019s good for circulation!'\u201d\nNorman was discharged within five days of surgery and returned to running a month later. This year, he completed the Pittsburgh half marathon with the amazing time of 1 hour and 57 minutes.\nNorman\u2019s story has a happy ending and he is back enjoying the same activities he did before his diagnosis. If you would like to hear more stories like Norman\u2019s, learn more about developments in the field of vascular medicine, or have a question about a problem you may be experiencing yourself, please visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute online or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484) to schedule an appointment.