What is diabetes mellitus and how can a vascular surgeon help me avoid amputation?

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Courtesy of DHR Health

Dr. Jose Andres Gonzalez
DHR Health Surgery Institute

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a high prevalence disease in the Rio Grande Valley area. It is associated with abnormal levels of sugar glucose in the blood, in most cases hereditary and progressive, without good care.

Multiple systems are affected with the disease, the more important are vascular, neurologic, and immune system. All this is related to the lack of good oxygen supply, the only oxygen carrier is blood, which is supply by the vascular system, which is deeply affected in patients with diabetes mellitus.

Neuropathy is one of the more common complications of this disease. It is related to the lack of good oxygen supply of the nerves, affecting the sensation, motor activity and causing a patient to become more prone for deformities and eventually developing ulcers that require an amputation.

The immune system is also affected, making the patient more susceptible to infections that will advance more rapidly than non-diabetic patients. Patients with this disease already have poor quality tissue due to the lack of oxygen, which can turn into severe sepsis, even death.

In order to provide oxygen to the tissues through the blood, the vascular system is important. Unfortunately, the vascular system is the most affected in diabetes mellitus patients. Arthrosclerosis, a disease of the arteries, is more prevalent in DM patients than non-DM patients. It is more severe, creating a serious problem that can affect patient quality of life, as well as their family. All this together will create a great ground for complications that are usually seen in these patients
It is important for patients to understand how important and serious this disease can be and the possible complications that can occur, in order to minimize, prevent, and maximize their quality of life.

Amputation is more commonly seen in patients who have DM, however, with the advancement in medicine, there are multiple treatment options available in order to prevent or minimize it.
A vascular surgeon is a specialist that can offer more treatment options, from minimally invasive (endovascular) to very complex procedures (bypass or combination of endovascular procedures); in order to preserve the extremities and improve the quality of life for patients. It is important to remember that DM is a surgical condition, yet those who have the disease have complex medical issues that need the collaboration of other specialist, to obtain a good outcome.

Good care and medical management after intervention is crucial, especially attention to minimal details, such as special footwear, regular and adequate wound care, glucose control (hemoglobin A-1 C as close as possible to 6.5), and regular checkups with your primary care doctor, vascular surgeon and another specialist involved in the specific needs of care for each patient.

Resuming good prevention of DM it is the most important factor to prevent and minimize complications of this disease, which is very common in the Rio Grande Valley. Choosing the right specialist and vascular surgeon to help you manage your disease, provide you with treatment options and a good coordinated medical team can help treat this complex disease and obtain good outcomes.
If you are diabetic and would like to discuss alternative options before amputation, please call DHR Health Surgery Institute at (956) 362-8170 to schedule a consultation with one of our expert physicians.