What is limb preservation?

Limb preservation refers to the crucial steps taken in order to save a damaged limb from amputation. 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. Severe cases of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can cause irreversible tissue damage and increase the risk for amputation if not treated.

Here at CTVS, we do everything medically possible to avoid amputation. Fortunately, there are many treatments available, including non-surgical therapies and minimally invasive techniques to preserve the limb, prevent amputation, promote the healing of wounds and improve circulation. When these treatments are unsuccessful, our vascular surgeons perform amputations to save patients from life-threatening complications.

Who is at risk for amputation?

People who are at risk for losing a limb include those with:

  • Severe cases of PAD
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Persistent leg or foot wounds that do not heal
  • Poor limb circulation due to other health issues
  • Damaged tissues from a serious infection or traumatic injury
  • Lower leg ischemia: the condition used to describe severe pain or wounds resulting in abnormally low blood flow to the leg or foot, often due to PAD

For those at risk, how can you prevent amputation?

In order to decrease your risk for potential amputation, it is important to keep your general health in check. That means eating well, staying active, avoiding tobacco use, and taking your regular medications as directed to help manage high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes.

Maximizing blood flow and circulation in the legs and feet is also essential. Ways we can help do that at CTVS include:

  • Medicines like blood thinners such as Aspirin or Plavix and cholesterol-lowering medications called statins
  • Perform Minimally-invasive procedures using special instruments such as stents, balloons, and small drills to clean out the arteries and promote blood flow (conveniently performed under moderate sedation in the office or at one of our two Vascular Intervention Suites)
  • Perform Bypass surgery to reroute and restore blood flow

When should you see our limb preservation specialists at CTVS?

If you experience any of the following situations, it’s important to make an appointment with our vascular specialists right away, as you may need immediate medical attention:

●      Reproducible Pain with Walking

If you develop pain when you walk in the form of calf, thigh, or buttock cramps that improves after you rest. This may be a sign that you have claudication (limited blood flow to the limbs and an indicator of PAD).

●      Early Signs of a Threatened Extremity

You should be evaluated if your feet or legs are cooler in temperature, develop hair loss and shiny skin, or have slow growth of your toe nails.

●      Progressive Signs of a Threatened Extremity

If you begin to develop numbness, weakness, or small ulcers on your toes, feet, or lower leg, you should be evaluated urgently as these are early signs of tissue death.

●      Severe Signs Needing Immediate Care

You should schedule an urgent appointment as soon as possible if you have severe pain in your foot at rest, develop black/darkened toes, or have open wounds/ulcers that will not heal.

Our CTVS board-certified vascular surgeons specializing in limb preservation are: