Amputation Prevention

Commonwealth Vein Center

Vascular, Vein and Wound Specialists & Cardiologists located in Colonial Heights, VA & Richmond, VA, & McLean, VA

Every year, 185,000 people have an amputation. More than half of them need an amputation due to diabetes and peripheral artery disease. That’s why the vascular and wound specialists at Commonwealth Vein Center offer comprehensive amputation prevention services. They work closely with each patient, identifying their risks and developing an aggressive program to manage their disease and prevent amputations. To learn more about their services, call the office in Colonial Heights, Richmond, or McLean, Virginia, or book an appointment online today.

Amputation Prevention Q & A

What is amputation prevention?

Amputation prevention refers to taking aggressive measures to preserve your legs and feet before severe vascular disease leads to an amputation. This approach includes vascular screening to detect blood vessel disease and develop a treatment plan to manage or treat the underlying condition. 

What conditions need intensive amputation prevention?

Blood vessel conditions that interrupt blood flow or cause non-healing wounds and infections can lead to an amputation. The most common include:

Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

PAD occurs when fatty plaque accumulates in an artery wall. The plaque progressively enlarges, narrowing the artery, and increasingly blocking blood flow. 

Without enough blood, your skin and other tissues don't get the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. Oxygen deprivation causes the tissues to break down, resulting in a wound (arterial ulcer) that won't heal without wound care.

In the most advanced stage, the severe loss of oxygen causes critical limb ischemia (CLI). Then tissues die, gangrene sets in, and only emergency surgery may save your limb. 

Diabetes

High blood sugar damages the small blood vessels in your feet. That damage limits the blood supply, which, in turn, interferes with healing.

Small wounds on your feet, like a minor cut or abrasion, won’t heal. Instead, they develop into a diabetic foot ulcer. Like an arterial ulcer, diabetic foot ulcers don't heal on their own. As a result, the ulcer enlarges and causes skin and bone infections. That's when you're at risk of needing an amputation. 

Venous insufficiency

Venous insufficiency doesn't cause as many amputations as PAD and diabetes. However, it's a serious vein disease that causes non-healing ulcers in your lower legs.

Unlike PAD, venous insufficiency doesn't significantly block leg circulation. However, venous insufficiency does cause non-healing ulcers that can lead to skin and bone infections. Without prompt wound care, these infections can get severe enough to require an amputation. 

What should I expect during amputation prevention? 

During your first amputation prevention appointment at Commonwealth Vein Center, your provider examines your legs and feet and performs a vascular ultrasound and ankle-brachial index test. They may also run blood tests to check for blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

After diagnosing the type of vascular disease and the extent of the problem, they develop a plan to treat the underlying condition and any ulcers or skin conditions.

Your amputation prevention plan could include:

  • Compression stockings
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Wound care
  • Diabetic foot care
  • Medications
  • Balloon angioplasty and stenting
  • Atherectomy
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • VenaSeal™
  • ClariVein®
  • Varithena®
  • Phlebectomy

If you have symptoms of vascular disease, such as leg pain, varicose veins, itching legs, leg swelling, skin rashes, or an ulcer, call Commonwealth Vein Center or book an appointment online for amputation prevention.