Doctor Adam Teichman, of PA Foot And Ankle Associates, performed limb-saving surgery May 9th on 68 year old diabetic patient Kathy Williamson, using advanced, state of the art technology at St Lukes’ Hospital in Bethlehem, PA.
Mrs Williamson suffers with chronic diabetic neuropathy, a condition which leaves diabetics with no feeling in their feet. This condition led her to develop a chronic ulceration in her right foot which did not resolve with conservative local wound care.
Repeated infections required Mrs Williamson to be hospitalized at St Luke’s, where she was given intravenous antibiotics until each infection was brought under control. After each hospitalization, she continued on a course of oral antibiotics.
Mrs Williamson was initially reluctant to undergo surgery for her repeated infections, but after multiple hospitalizations she consented to limb salvage surgery, as there was a significant threat that her foot might have to be amputated if the infections continued. In diabetics, recurring infections may work their way into the bone of the lower limbs. If this occurs, a physician may need to fully or partially amputate the limb in order to save the patient’s life.
Diabetes is the leading cause of lower limb amputations and diabetics run a risk of amputation ten times higher than patients without diabetes. After an amputation the chance of an additional amputation in 3-5 years is as high as 50% and mortality rate also increases due to the increased stress on the patient’s cardiovascular system. Statistically, anytime a foot or limb is amputated, the risk of infection elsewhere in the body actually increases.
Doctor Teichman, who is a Board Certified Podiatric Surgeon currently on staff at Sacred Heart Wound Healing Center in Allentown, PA, recommended a state of the art procedure which included the use of Graft Jacket (a bio-engineered synthetic skin graft) and Wound Vac, manufactured by KCI. Wound VAC (Vacuum Assisted Closure) was originally developed and used on U.S. Soldiers during the Iraq war for treating deep penetrating gunshot wounds. It proved so successful at speeding the healing of wounds that it is now used regularly in hospitals. Wound Vac eliminates the need to keep re-dressing a deep wound with gauze, as a pump continuously removes fluid from the wound until it has closed.
In the operating room, Doctor Teichman excised the infected tissue from Mrs Williamson’s foot, cleaned the wound and then applied Graft Jacket, which helped Mrs Williamson’s body construct new skin cells to close the wound faster than it would otherwise. The wound was then prepared for Negative Pressure Wound Therapy with Wound Vac, which will stay in place until Mrs Williamson’s wound is completely closed.
Mrs Williamson is now recovering and her foot is doing better than it has in months, due to this state of the art procedure which has allowed her to walk without any issues. If Mrs Williamson were the kind of patient who didn’t see her podiatrist on a regular basis, her infections may have spiraled out of control and led to a medically necessary amputation.
Doctor Teichman urges anyone who suffers with diabetic neuropathy to check their feet daily, paying special attention for any skin lesions or wounds and keep regular appointments with their podiatrist to monitor foot health.