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Hopkins Pulse - A One-Stop Shop for Diabetes Vascular and Wound Care
A One-Stop Shop for Diabetes Vascular and Wound Care
Date: June 23, 2014
Johns Hopkins Multidisciplinary Diabetic Foot and Wound Clinic helps patients with diabetes-related complications.
Donna Brown, 53, was diagnosed with diabetes more than 20 years ago. “I didn’t understand it or take it that seriously until I started having a funny feeling in my legs that turned out to be a blockage,” she says.
Due to a lack of blood flow to her right foot, gangrene developed in her big toe and it had to be amputated. Her primary care doctor referred her to the Johns Hopkins Multidisciplinary Diabetic Foot and Wound Clinic, where patients can see several specialists in one visit.
Vascular surgeon Christopher Abularrage opened the blockage in Brown’s leg with angioplasty to immediately restore blood flow. However, she had a lingering wound in her foot despite the angioplasty and needed procedures to remove damaged tissue and expel excess fluid.
Abularrage enlisted the help of plastic surgeon Justin Sacks, who was able to stretch a flap of skin over the wound as well as perform multiple skin grafts to seal Brown’s ulcers. Those steps, in combination with bypass surgery to detour the blood around a recurrence in the blockage, allowed her foot to heal.
“Ms. Brown is typical of patients who need the services of all of us—not just vascular surgeons, but also podiatrists, plastic surgeons and endocrinologists,” says Abularrage.
He and his colleagues developed the Multidisciplinary Diabetic Foot and Wound Clinic to provide coordinated care for the growing number of patients with diabetes-related vascular and wound complications. “Our goal is to catch problems early and intervene to prevent hospitalizations and amputations,” says Abularrage, the clinic’s medical director. “Of course, we also care for patients with more advanced, complex problems.”
“When I came in distressed and scared, they really helped me through it,” says Brown. “They explained exactly what was going on, told me all the options and gave me a chance to make up my mind. I am very grateful for this clinic.”
Brown also is pleased with being able to see several specialists in one clinic visit. “Patients like me have a hard time getting around, and this saves us from making multiple trips.”
“It’s too much to ask them to see different specialists on different days,” Abularrage says. “It delays their care.”