Although there have been numerous technological advances made in medicine in recent years, there are still some patients with poor healing and continued tissue loss. Patients with diabetes and peripheral arterial disease are particularly at risk. While most patients with claudication (pain with exercise) will never require an amputation, patients with an acute loss of blood flow (acute limb ischemia) have a much higher risk of amputation. In addition to poor blood flow, infection can spread up a limb and necessitate amputation. Again, diabetic patients are more prone to these types of infections. Finally, some patients have terrible pain due to decreased blood flow and poor oxygenation to the tissue despite treatment. These patients may ultimately have better use of their extremity and less pain with an amputation. Regardless of the reason, your vascular surgeon will discuss the indications and other possible options if he or she deems an amputation is necessary.
The procedure itself is relatively straightforward. Once the patient has been adequately anesthetized the skin and superficial muscles are cut. The bone is then cut at the appropriate level. The vessels and nerves are isolated and protected during the procedure. They are securely tied off to decrease blood loss. Finally, the deeper muscles are cut as well and the wound closed in multiple layers. Your surgeon will usually discuss prosthetic placement prior to surgery. Also, a prosthetic consultant will see the patient either before or immediately after surgery. Often patients are ready for a prosthetic in as little as one month after surgery if the area is well healed.
A lower extremity amputation can ultimately improve a patient’s functional status if done for the appropriate reasons. However, poor healing remains a concern and can ultimately impact outcome. A vascular surgeon is required to maximize the potential for a positive outcome. Dr. Jenna Kazil is a kind and compassionate vascular surgeon in Manatee County, FL, who sees patients at various hospitals on the West coast of Florida. Dr. Kazil understands the challenging circumstances surrounding a lower extremity amputation and combines warmth and skill in a necessary way. Patients looking for an extraordinary vascular surgeon should contact Dr. Kazil for all their surgical and vascular needs.