Oscar Betancourt has lived with diabetes for years. He knows letting it get out of control can affect all parts of his body, so when he noticed a sore not healing quickly on his foot he knew it was serious.
His doctors at Harris Health System’s Aldine Health Center felt the same way and referred him to a specialty service at the system’s Ben Taub Hospital for follow-up. They knew the sore, if infected and not responding to treatment could require an amputation.
At Ben Taub Hospital, Betancourt saw a team of experts led by Dr. Lee Poythress of the Osteomyelitis Wound Clinic, and T.J. Pelton, physical therapist and manager, Rehabilitation Services. The team specializes in saving diabetes-ravaged lower limbs (leg, feet and toes) and found a significant problem for Betancourt—the sore had gotten infected and spread to the bones in his foot.
“I put it in perspective, if I had to lose a toe to save my foot, that was OK,” Betancourt says. “Of course, keeping my toes and feet was the best thing for me.”
Unfortunately, saving a person’s limbs is not always possible. A person with diabetes has a 25 percent lifetime chance of developing a foot ulcer and 85 percent of all amputations are preceded by an ulcer. Once gangrene or dead tissue sets in, amputation is often the only option, says Poythress.
Based on 2010 data in the U.S., 73,000 lower limb amputations were performed on adults with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Society. Amputations and associated care for diabetes cost $245 billion annually—$176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in lost productivity.
“It’s about saving a patient’s quality of life and helping them continue to be productive members of society,” says Poythress, also an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine. “We have an aggressive program to treat and heal foot wounds and infections. Amputation is our last option.”
Betancourt can’t praise the clinic and its staff enough. After 40 days of treatment, staff saved his right foot. Since his near-amputation scare, he checks, washes and dries his feet daily.
“Our physical therapists are certified in advanced wound care and use a hands-on approach to care for patients to promote an optimal wound healing environment,” Pelton says. “Our team educates patients in the care of the wound and how to implement lifestyle changes that will promote healing and prevent reoccurrence.”
The team uses multiple treatment methods to care for patients and has seen excellent results in wound healing and decreased amputation rates, Poythress says.
Since his recovery, Betancourt has made significant healthy lifestyle changes and is able to maintain a job that often keeps him on his feet.
“I eat well and exercise more,” he says. “I’ve always been one to exercise, but now I’ve joined a gym and make it a regular part of my life.”
Poythress warns that patients with diabetes who fail to control their sugar levels risk severe health issues, including death. Diabetes can contribute to kidney disease, blindness, heart attacks and stroke.
Symptoms of diabetic foot disease:
• Fungal infection
• Neuropathy—decreased feeling in toes, feet and legs
• Dry skin and foot infections
• Developing of bunions, corns and calluses
• Ingrown toenails
For more information on diabetic foot disease, visit www.diabetes.org/living -with-diabetes/
RT @bilalmomhammad: Great to see our pathology colleagues at @utmbhealth doing so well !!! @utmbnews @UTMB_Pathology @UTMBProvost https://t…
MD Anderson Cancer Center@MDAndersonNews
Daughter, caregiver Carrick Terhune shares the creative ways she supported her mom through #protontherapy for a rare #headandneckcancer: https://t.co/MpKEHxoaQO @MDAProtons #hncsm #endcancer
Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine, @MethodistHosp and @TexasChildrens receive a Specialized Center of Research grant to expand blood cancer therapy options. https://t.co/IcGckHPSBM #grants #cancer #research
RT @BruceTjadenMD: Here at @UTCVSurgery and @UTHealth, we are carrying out a #randomized #ClinicalTrial to compare #medical management vs #…
Veteran Affairs Office in Des Moines, IA holding coat drive https://t.co/IUDLZBpiZF via @weareiowa5news
RT @MillionHeartsUS: #Stroke risk increases with age, but strokes can (and do) happen at any age. Raise awareness of the importance of stro…
RT @BCMHouston_News: We are pleased to welcome Dr. Alastair Thompson to @bcmhouston! Dr. Thompson will lead #breastcancer surgical oncology…
MD Anderson Cancer Center@MDAndersonNews
“We’re really hopeful that we can identify a group of women who can get a much bigger and longer response,” says our @JenniferLitton of #immunotherapy to treat #breastcancer. #endcancer https://t.co/vv1JYis5rl
RT @HRSonline: Sudden #cardiacarrest claims 1 life every 90 secs. A few #SCA risk factors include a previous #heartattack, family history o…
The Dallas, TX VA and Vet Center teams met last week with leadership from the Urban Inter-Tribal Center of Texas to outline how their respective organizations can join forces to effectively reach and serve American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans. https://t.co/EBX1x6cPoV
RT @RiceUGPS: Lots of positive change coming to campus: the university is studying ways to create safe pathways for cyclists, and has also…
TAMU Health Sciences@TAMHSC
The Good Run . . . #MilesforSmiles in its 10th yearOn Nov. 3, the @TAMUdental student-led Miles for Smiles continues its stride at Exall Park in Dallas with its 10th annual runathon. https://t.co/5PFPnaDnOL#TAMHSC #AggieHealth #TAMUHealth #Dentistry #DentalStudents #TAMU https://t.co/NJaxKMawVq
University of Houston@UHouston
The John O'Quinn Foundation donates $3.5M to the UH College of Medicine, UH researchers envision in-home rehab for stroke patients, and Valenti students produce a web cooking show — here are your 60-second highlights of what's happening at UH #UHMoment https://t.co/1ork3iw0kz
CHI St. Luke's Health@CHI_StLukes
Sometimes it’s difficult to sift through the rumors to get the facts about #BreastCancer. We’re debunking five common myths, and they just might surprise you: https://t.co/pMnncNr4ul https://t.co/0HNfCjQYgI
Can you die from a broken heart? 💔 Rice researchers find that grief can cause inflammation that can kill: https://t.co/1LM4kl00xd https://t.co/aoCAn36Rhg