From West New York, New Jersey, USA:
For about a year, my 61 year old father, who has diabetes, has problems with foot pain and burning every time he walks a long distance. He's been to many doctors, but nothing has helped.
Just recently he found a good foot doctor and surgeon who did blood flow studies and corrected a blockage on one leg, but on the other, he got gangrene on one toe which was removed. Now that they removed one toe and his infection is gone, that foot is still turning black so they want to cut his leg up below his knee. Before all this they did a minor surgery on his other leg left to correct his veins and one of those three cuts never healed due to bad blood flow. He does not have any gangrene on that foot, and the color is normal. Is there anything that could be done so he won't lose both legs?
It sounds like your father has decreased blood flow to his legs. Without blood flow, the body cannot heal or fight off infection. The problem is how to get blood to the tissues. In some cases, when the tissue has overwhelming infection, there may no other options than to remove the tissue. How much is removed depends on the regional blood flow and the prospects for good would healing. Remember, when you make a surgical incision, you are also creating a wound. This has to be able to heal or you have the same problems all over again, and the infections could be life-threatening.
I would suggest you speak with your father's physician and have them give you more information about your father, so you are aware of the general picture. Also, remember that good blood sugar control is helpful in preventing infection and improving healing.
Original posting 2 Oct 2001
Posted to Complications
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