Loss of a limb can be both physically and mentally traumatic.
Unfortunately it is often necessary to save a patient’s life. Amputation of a limb may be needed when there is serious infection, a wound that won’t heal, or poor circulation (typically in the legs) that causes tissue to die.
Lower leg ischemia is the condition used to describe severe pain or wounds that result in this abnormally low blood flow or circulation to the leg or foot. Ischemia develops from peripheral artery disease (PAD) which is a hardening, or narrowing, of arteries from atherosclerosis and blocking blood flow to and from the legs.
In the most severe cases, blood flow and circulation may be so poor that amputation of the foot or leg may become a matter of life or death.
Here at Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons of Texas (CTVS), we are committed to saving limbs with the most advanced minimally invasive techniques to improve blood flow and salvage limbs.
Dr. Ryan Turley, one of our board-certified vascular surgeons, is passionate about and dedicated to saving limbs in our patients suffering from extreme ischemia. He says that there are both non-invasive and invasive surgical procedures to improve blood flow that are highly effective if treatment is administered early on.
“Medicines that can improve circulation include blood thinners such as Aspirin or Plavix and cholesterol lowering medications called statins,” explains Dr. Turley. “If medicines are not enough, most patients can be treated in our office using minimally-invasive procedures to increase blood flow.”
These minimally-invasive procedures are typically done with moderate sedation in the office or at one of our two Vascular Intervention Suites, eliminating the need to go to a hospital. Ultrasound and x-ray imagery is done first to determine the extent of the hardening or narrowing of arteries and to map blood vessels. Special instruments such as stents, balloons, and small drills are then used to clean and open the arteries and encourage blood flow. Patients are usually able to return home the same day.
In more severe cases when other options have not proven successful, bypass surgery may be needed to restore blood flow to the limb.
To better the chances of saving a limb, Dr. Turley stresses that it is also important to control blood sugar levels if a patient is diabetic along with avoiding all forms of tobacco.