More than two million Americans are living as amputees, and that’s expected to double by 2050. In an attempt to change the projection, Texas Health Plano is trying something different. A new and unique catheterization procedure can help salvage the legs of more would-be amputee patients.
The multidisciplinary program includes emergency physicians, orthopedic surgeons, wound care physicians, podiatry, internal medicine and interventional cardiology. “The goal is to provide a cohesive plan of care for patients presenting to the ER or wound care center with ischemic ulcers of the legs (or) feet,” says Dr. Vijay Ramanath, medical director of Texas Health Plano’s Limb Preservation Program. “We want to prevent leg (and) foot amputations and return patients to a high-quality of life.”
A blister on the toe of Reynaldo Reyna, a Texas Health Plano patient and Type 2 Diabetic, originally appeared that it would cost him both his legs. The blister caused a plaque build-up, which completely blocked the arteries. Multiple doctors told him he was facing amputation in both legs, but Reynaldo came across an alternative. A Texas Health Plano doctor put Reyna with Dr. Ramanath. “Mr. Ramanath felt a pulse in my leg and said ‘I think I can fix you.’ My wife started crying,” says Reyna. “I walk on buildings. I work on roofs. It’s my lifestyle. I have seen all these prosthetics, but I don’t want to be that guy yet.”
Leg amputations are associated with shorter life expectancy. Dr. Ramanath is helping to prevent the number of amputations by getting patients enrolled in their program. “We are then able to get these patients back to an ambulatory state—i.e. back to work, walking, and staying active—which improves their overall cardiovascular health,” he says.
Texas Health Plano’s program has treated 75 patients to date. Since it started in the middle of 2016, the number of major amputations is down more than 60 percent. Texas Health Plano isn’t the only hospital to have the procedure, but it’s one of the first in the area. “As a result of our success, we capture patients from North Dallas, Fort Worth and as far as Amarillo,” says Dr. Ramanath.