From CBS 12 Newscast, August 7, 2014:
New Technology at Martin Health is Saving Limbs with Remarkable Success
With new technology and techniques, the limb salvage team at Martin Health has a reputation for saving legs with remarkable success. Thanks to the leadership of Dr. Julio Sanguily III, general and vascular surgeon, older adults with diabetes and arterial disease on the Treasure Coast now have a good option to amputation. “Advancements in technology allow surgeries that were unimaginable 10 to 15 years ago,” Dr. Sanguily said. “We’ve been able to re-establish circulation in extremities that were once routinely amputated.”
An estimated 150,000 Americans lose their limbs annually, primarily due to diabetes and arterial disease.
“Fifty percent of patients who have an amputation will never walk again and half of them will die within 18 months,” Dr. Sanguily said. “It also costs more to amputate a leg than to prevent it. Amputations cost the U.S. $10.6 million a year. It just doesn’t make sense when you have better options.”
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) occurs when plaque builds up in arteries that carry blood to the limbs. When that plaque becomes calcified, it cuts off blood flow which can lead to pain, numbness, increased chance of infection and tissue death. Smoking, diabetes, age and heart disease are all risk factors for developing PAD.
Dr. Sanguily and his team have a 90 percent success rate with patients who have a salvageable situation. They have undergone specialized training and utilize state-of-the-art technology that allows them to open blood vessels below the knee that are difficult to access. As a result, limbs previously considered for amputation can be saved.
Among the tools in the plaque-clearing arsenal is the CSI arterectomy device that spins at up to 120,000 revolutions per minute while sanding the inner lining of the calcified artery. Dr. Sanguily is currently the only surgeon in the tri-county area who is using this device . Other tools, such as lower profile catheters, wires and balloons, make it possible to get into smaller arteries all the way down to the foot to scale away plaque.
“This is a rapidly growing field,” Dr. Sanguily said. “There is a huge patient population that can benefit from our unique approach.”
Dr. Sanguily and his team go the extra mile to try to prevent amputation. They are also training other physicians who then bring back these innovative techniques to their own hospitals. In the five years since he started the limb salvage program at Martin Health, Dr. Sanguily has trained more than 60 physicians. Some have come from as far away as California.
Depending on the severity of the case, some patients can arrive for surgery in the morning and walk out the door unassisted in the afternoon.
“We have progressed rapidly since we started the limb salvage program,” Dr. Sanguily said. “Thanks to new technology and advancements in atherectomy devices, our amputation rate related to PAD has dropped significantly. Major amputations should never be considered a conservative treatment for this disease.”
Dr. Sanguily finds the work immensely rewarding. “When you save a limb, you save a life,” he said. “We are making a real difference for patients here in southern Florida.”
For more information on Martin Health’s limb salvage program or to see if you might be a candidate, call 772.221.2003.
About Martin Health System: Martin Health System is a not-for-profit, community-based health care organization that has served the Treasure Coast region of Florida for 75 years. It offers a continuum of care including preventive, primary and acute hospital care, as well as cancer and cardiac care, wellness and rehabilitation services. Its approximately 3,700 associates, nearly 400 affiliated physicians and 850 volunteers provide care at 13 different locations serving Martin and St. Lucie Counties. To learn more, visit martinhealth.org.
Media Contact: Donna Murphy, Communications Specialist