Joe Langer no longer takes walking for granted. “One day I was fine, the next my toes turned purple and I was in horrific pain. I developed open wounds on the bottom of my feet, gangrene set and I could barely walk. It happened very fast and the next thing I knew, I was facing amputation on both legs from the knees down.”
Every 30 seconds some one, some where in the world is undergoing an amputation, according the American Diabetes Association.
Most tragic, the majority can be prevented according to endovascular surgeon, Dr. William Julien founder of South Florida Vascular Associates, “As more people develop diabetes, amputations are becoming more common, yet 96-percent of them can be avoided. Unfortunately the vast majority of patients aren’t aware of that so they end up losing their limbs or worse yet, their lives.”
People at highest risk are diabetics, those with high cholesterol, heart disease and smokers.
The condition is known as critical limb ischemia (CLI). Simply put, plaque builds up in the arteries, seriously decreasing blood flow to extremities including the hands, feet and legs causing extreme pain and at worst, loss of limbs.
Joe, a diabetic and former smoker considers himself lucky. His podiatrist sent him to South Florida Vascular Associates where they specialize in treating CLI. Joe’s brother-in-law, also a diabetic was not so lucky. Joe says, “His podiatrist did not send him to experts like Dr. Julien and unfortunately his toes were cut off. We now know that could have been prevented.”
Endovascular surgeons at South Florida Vascular Associates take a multi-disciplinary approach to saving limbs and lives. Joe is a great example, they opened the blockages in his arteries then worked very closely with his wound care, infectious disease, and primary care doctors to make sure his wounds were properly healed".
Dr. William Julien Explains Atherectomy Procedure in the Video Below
Using state-of-the-art ultrasound and angiogram technology, he first pinpoints blockages inside artery walls. Then an atherectomy procedure is done in which tiny rotating tools can pulverize and remove the plaque. If necessary, stents are used or angioplasty to re-open the arteries and restore blood flow to the limbs. In addition, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is sometimes prescribed to help heal wounds faster.
It’s a crime to amputate when most of the time it can be prevented. The biggest problem is getting the word out and educating the public.
Joe is trying to help do just that, “These docs performed a miracle. I was in such pain, it was killing me and now I’m back to normal and I consider myself a very lucky man.”
Dr. Julien says, “We urge patients who are told that their limbs must be amputated to get a second opinion. By spreading the word we can significantly reduce the number of amputations from wounds that just won’t heal.”
If you are diagnosed with critical limb ischemia and are told you need your limb amputated, please contact one of our 3 convenient offices to schedule a consultation with our board certified endovascular surgeons. We may be able to salvage your limb.