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The Doctor Gamble: How Vicki Avoided Amputation

By Kirstin Rizk

For four years, Vicki Sievers dealt with so much pain in her legs that she could hardly walk. Aside from the pain, her legs were heavy and numb. She recalled, “I felt like I was walking on two stumps.” This kept her from grocery shopping, doing chores, and going out with her kids or grandkids. Then, an ulcer on her big toe lead to osteomyelitis: extremely painful swelling in the bone from an infection.

But Vicki did not sit idly by while peripheral artery disease kept her from living. For a year, her specialists disagreed on how to treat her. Her podiatrist insisted that the toe needed to be amputated to keep the infection from spreading. At the same time, her cardiovascular surgeon insisted that her foot didn’t have enough blood supply to heal after a toe amputation, meaning she’d likely end up needing a more major amputation of part of her foot, below the ankle, or below the knee. Instead, he wanted to try to clear out the arteries to get blood flowing once again.

The cardiovascular specialist tried 5 or 6 endovascular procedures, but could not get through the hardened plaque in Vicki’s arteries. She also underwent 50 hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments. Nothing eased her symptoms.

Still, the pain in her feet, and especially her infected toe, kept her up at night. With both a non-healing ulcer and rest pain, this indicated that Vicki’s PAD had progressed to chronic limb-threatening ischemia.

Between her impaired mobility and the number of failed attempts at fixing the issue, she began to feel hopeless.

Finally, her wound care specialist recommended a new podiatrist, and this podiatrist had a new idea. He did not want to amputate the toe. Instead, he wanted her to try a new, highly specialized vascular specialist: Modern Vascular. The clinic was not nearby, but Vicki was ready to sit through the drive for a new chance at hope.

Dr. Wande Pratt at Modern Vascular in St. Louis, Missouri, started with Vicki’s right leg. Due to the extent and hardening of the plaque in this leg, the procedure had to be done in two sittings. After the second procedure on the leg, Vicki was astonished. She states, “And I loved the fact that I could move it and I could walk. But I still was kind of debilitated a little bit because my left leg was really hurting still… So I looked at him and I said, ‘now can we do my left leg?’”  

After the procedure on her left leg, Vicki was pain-free and walking. She listed off all the things she was able to do again: walk, dust, go out with her kids and grandkids. She recounts, “that really had me depressed for a very long time. And boy, not now. It’s like everything is just opened up to me.”

Vicki is thankful that she saw a new podiatrist who wanted to pursue other options before amputation. Dr. Pratt always supports this move. He says, “I believe that when patients are told they need to have an amputation, they should undoubtedly seek a second opinion. An amputation is final, and once it occurs there is no turning back.”

In a field where each doctor and each clinic vary in terms of training, experience, skill, technology, and resources, relying on a single doctor is akin to taking a gamble.  Because she sought a second opinion, Vicki avoided an amputation with the potential to lead to more major amputations. She adds, “It’s been a miracle. It’s been a godsend. I can’t thank Dr. Pratt enough.”

To learn more about the non-invasive vascular solutions that Modern Vascular offers or to find answers to your PAD-related problems, you can call (888) 853-1278 or use the online form at ModernVascular.com to request a consultation with a Modern Vascular Patient Advocate.

Peripheral Artery Disease can be effectively treated when diagnosed early and properly.

You can schedule a comprehensive evaluation for peripheral artery disease at a Modern Vascular clinic if you believe that you are at risk or to put your mind at ease.

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