UMC scientists work to eradicate amputation among diabetes patient

University Medical Center researchers are trying to heal the diabetes related injuries. Dr. David Armstrong has joined with UMC vascular surgeon Dr. Joseph Mills to create the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance, which will focus specifically on healing wounds to prevent amputation.

Armstrong came to Tucson from Chicago, where he founded a similar program. He is a past member of the National board of the American Diabetes Association and is the founder and co-chair of the International Diabetic Foot Conference.

Several studies have found that fewer than half the people with severe and life-threatening infections require an amputation when treated first with hospital therapies, such as vascular surgery, in which doctors open blocked blood vessels and increase blood flow from the heart.

The American Diabetes Association said that high blood glucose causes poor circulation, which can result in poor vision, nerve damage and inability to heal wounds and fight infections.

Take the case of Albert Begay, who lost his little toe, and maggots were used to remove the dead skin on his left foot as he fights to prevent its crippling amputation. This 71 year old patient came to the UMC with an infection in the bones of his left foot. A diabetic for 43 years, Begay spent most of his life on the Navajo Nation. Earlier this year, he ended up with a blister on his little toe that became infected.Under Armstrong’s care, Begay underwent several vascular surgeries to increase the blood flow to his foot, which in turn will help it heal faster.

Begay has also undergone three rounds of Food and Drug Administration-approved maggot therapy. Medically grown maggots eat dead skin, allowing live skin to heal, and have been found to be more effective than surgical removal.
Armstrong has worked with European organizations to understand the link between diabetes and foot wounds. He was recently inducted into the Podiatric Hall of Fame.

Source: Tucson Citizen

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