Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alternatives to Amputation

Amputation of an arm or leg should always be a last resort. That’s why Florence Davis of Hillside, NJ sought the help of a talented team of doctors at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in an effort to save her leg.

For over a year, Davis struggled with a persistent foot wound that restricted blood circulation in her leg. The problem became so severe that doctors were considering amputating the leg. However, the vascular specialists at Beth Israel had other plans for their 81 year-old patient. Doctors applied a new ultra-cold catheter technique to open several blockages in the arteries—a technique that would save her leg without any surgery.

If you’ve ever sough medical advice for the treatment of a wound, you know that wound care can be a tricky ailment that can often spiral into other diseases due to complications and infections. Davis suffered from peripheral artery disease (PAD), but wasn’t aware that the condition could be life-threatening and seriously debilitating. If left untreated, people who exhibit symptoms of PAD are four to five times more likely to get a heart attack or stroke. The pain in Ms. Davis’ foot became so severe that she could barely walk. To make matters worse, she got a cut on her toe that refused to heal, so she turned to the Advanced Wound Care and Hyperbaric Institute at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center for help.

Doctors began aggressive wound treatment, but tests show that she had three blockages in the artery that runs from her hip to her toe. Circulation had to be restored, but Davis was not a candidate for the traditional vascular bypass surgery that transplants blood vessels from a healthy limb to replace blocked vessels. The wound care specialists at Beth Israel referred Davis to Madhu Salvaji, DO, one of a handful of New Jersey doctors who uses the Polarcath system to treat patients. This sophisticated form of treatment combines cold therapy and angioplasty (a procedure that involves using a balloon to open clogged arteries) to help prevent future blockages.

“Cooling the blood vessel down to -10 degrees Celsius as the balloon is inserted in the clogged artery, causes targeted cell death and alters the new cells that will replace them, greatly reducing the chances of a future blockage,” explained Dr. Salvaji. Altogether, Dr. Salvaji opened three blockages using a combination of cold catheter, stent placement and artherectomy, a delicate process of removing plaque from the artery walls.

“All I had to do was lie still,” said Mrs. Davis about the three minimally invasive procedures that were performed in stages. Within two weeks, the swelling in her foot disappeared, her toe was healed and she was back to her daily walking, shopping, and gardening.

For more information about advanced wound care or treatment for peripheral artery disease at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, please call 1-888-SBHS-123.

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