Karen Adair is thankful for the small things: like being able to walk and wear shoes. She didn’t know if either of those ordinary activities would ever be possible again after developing a pain in her foot that kept her from walking, coupled with a bypass surgery on her leg that never healed.
“We never really figured out what happened to cause the original pain, but I know I was a medical mess. Several doctors told me it would be easier to amputate. But I didn’t want what was easy, I wanted to keep my leg,” says Adair.
Adair was living in Arkansas at the time, and after a consult with a physician in Houston, she was referred to Dean Chauvin, M.D., an interventional radiologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center and Medical Director at the Amputation Prevention Center ® and Wound Care at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center.
“When I saw Mrs. Adair, not only was there no blood flow in her leg, but she also had open, infected wounds from the bypass surgery. She was at a high risk of amputation, but I was hopeful that if we could get her blood flow started once more, her wounds would heal, and she would be pain-free and walking again,” said Dr. Chauvin.
Restoring blood flow to the limb was critical to saving it
Over the course of a year, Adair had several procedures on the arteries in her leg to restore blood flow, as well as multiple treatments in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber to promote wound healing.
“It’s called ‘revascularization’,” says Dr. Chauvin. “Mrs. Adair’s problems all stemmed from a lack of blood flow, so in a nutshell, we restored her blood flow to her leg and foot. In turn, her wounds were able to heal and her pain went away. ”
“I didn’t miss a single appointment,” says Adair. “My husband rented me an apartment nearby, and while it was tough being away from my family, I was dedicated to Dr. Chauvin’s treatment plan.”
Dr. Chauvin says that recognizing risk factors for chronic wounds and seeking medical care early is key to preventing amputation.
“Those with neuropathy, poor circulation, and diabetes are all at a higher risk for chronic wounds and amputation. The wound often starts as something small, like a foot ulcer. When it fails to heal, it can lead to serious infections,” says Dr. Chauvin.
The joy of taking long walks again
Now, Adair says she regularly goes on long walks and is able to play with her grandchildren.
“I hope anyone facing amputation will find Dr. Chauvin. If it wasn’t for him, I’d have one leg amputated and I’d be walking with a prosthesis,” says Adair.
“I think the correlation between being able to be active, even just walking, and living longer is apparent. We want to do everything we can to prevent people from losing a limb and to keep those patients active,” says Dr. Chauvin.
The Amputation Prevention Center ® and Wound Care at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center offers inpatient and outpatient treatments by a team of highly specialized affiliated physicians and surgeons. From comprehensive wound care to hyperbaric oxygen chambers, the center has state-of-the-art technologies and equipment needed to heal wounds and prevent amputation.
Learn more about the Amputation Prevention Center and Wound Care.