There are many words you probably never want to hear from a doctor when discussing your medical condition, and amputation is likely one of them. Most amputations are caused by vascular conditions, such as diabetes. Losing a limb can be distressing regardless of the cause.
Let’s find out how a limb salvage doctor can preserve limb function and prevent the need for amputation.
What Is Limb Salvage?
Limb salvage falls under reconstructive surgery, which aims to fix defects that are congenital or caused by disease or injury. Advances in reconstructive surgical techniques make it possible to save a limb that might otherwise need to be amputated.
The main purpose of limb salvage is to restore or improve limb function and facilitate a return to normal life. As such, a limb salvage doctor implements treatments and performs procedures that will reconstruct and preserve the limb, saving a patient’s leg and foot when traditional therapies fail. Limb salvage benefits patients with:
- Chronic degenerative bone and joint disease
- Acute or chronic wounds in the limb
- Diabetes complications
What Conditions Does A Limb Salvage Doctor Treat?
Limb salvage generally benefits patients with degenerative bone and joint diseases, acute or chronic limb wounds, and diabetic complications. Some of the conditions that a limb salvage doctor treats are:
- Leg and foot ulcers. These are open sores that are chronic, recurring, and resistant to treatment. It may not always be painful, but some symptoms include swelling, burning, and itching in the affected limb.
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD). A circulatory condition occurring when arteries narrow and reduce vital flow of blood to the limbs. If left untreated, it could lead to amputation — in fact, it’s the most common cause of amputation, along with diabetes.
- Poorly controlled diabetes could lead to organ damage and loss of limb. It’s possible to get a diabetic foot ulcer, which could result in amputation.
How Does A Limb Salvage Doctor Diagnose Conditions?
In order to properly diagnose a patient’s condition and recommend the proper treatment, a limb salvage doctor may perform the following tests:
- Arterial duplex ultrasound for arms and legs. Arterial duplex ultrasound is a test that uses both Doppler and traditional ultrasound. It is used to assess and measure the arterial blood flow in the arms and legs, detecting blockages and abnormalities. Since it’s non-invasive, it’s not painful and requires little preparation.
- Angiogram (Angriography). An angiogram is performed by injecting a specialized dye into the bloodstream using a catheter. The scan produces images, enabling a limb salvage doctor to detect clots, blockages, narrowing, aneurysms, and other problems in the blood vessels.
- Pulse volume recording. This test is performed to evaluate arterial blood flow through the arms and legs. During this test, blood pressure cuffs will be inflated in the arms and legs, then a Doppler probe will be used to measure blood pressure.
What Procedures Does A Limb Salvage Doctor Perform?
Allograft Bone Replacement
In this procedure, bones from an organ donor will be used to replace the bone in the affected limb. Since an allograft implant does not grow, a limb salvage doctor might implant a slightly longer length of the bone to compensate for future growth. Complications, such as graft fracture and infection, are rare.
This procedure is done by replacing bone with a metal implant (endoprosthesis). Prostheses can be implanted with or without bone cement. It’s usually performed on fully grown or almost fully grown teens and young adults, because the traditional endoprosthesis cannot be lengthened.
Tissue regeneration is done in reconstructive procedures to improve the results of limb salvage. It uses combinations of a patient’s cells, synthetic materials, and purified protein growth factors to induce tissue regeneration.
In cases where there’s not enough muscle around a joint to provide function and mobility, a limb salvage doctor may recommend making the joint rigid by fusing the ends of the joint, so they can heal together.
Limb Salvage Doctor In San Antonio, TX
While most amputations result from vascular diseases, most of these amputations are actually preventable. However, it’s still better to prevent your condition early on rather than wait until there is a risk of amputation. Here at the Podiatry Group of South Texas, our team of specialists specialize in diabetic foot care, including regular foot examinations and preventive foot care.
In the event that you develop a severe infection or risk of limb amputation, our experienced podiatric surgeons are highly skilled and trained in performing foot and ankle surgery, such as limb salvage or amputation. We will make every possible attempt to save your limb while offering personalized attention and comprehensive care, supporting your treatment and recovery from start to finish.
If you’re searching for high-quality and expert foot and ankle care, schedule an appointment by contacting us or using our online appointment request form. We look forward to serving your foot and ankle needs!