Collaboration Between Wound Healing and Vascular Specialists

posted by Jordan Achterhoff on Wednesday, June 1, 2022

More than seven million people suffer from chronic wounds in the United States. Dealing with chronic, non-healing wounds can take months, or even years, to complete the normal healing process. The healing process can be painful and affect the patient’s quality of life. There is an abundance of risk factors that can contribute to the development of non-healing wounds including smoking, inflammatory diseases, diabetes, hypertension, venous insufficiency, and advanced peripheral artery disease. The treatment of underlying problems is the first step in the healing process.

The good news is our wound healing team, with help from vascular surgeons, can create a well-rounded plan of care to treat chronic wounds. Typically, wound care begins with treating the underlying problems contributing to the patient’s non-healing wounds.

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is more prevalent than many commonly known diseases, and it is important that we recognize early signs and symptoms of PAD. PAD occurs when there is poor circulation to the patient’s lower extremities which can lead to a chronic, non-healing ulcer for our patient. The arteries narrow due to the internal buildup of fatty deposits. These chronic wounds contribute to the number of limb amputations performed annually in the United States. Vascular testing can help to salvage limbs and prevent unnecessary amputations.

Getting vascular studies are important because we know that if there is not enough blood reaching the patient’s wound, the wound may never fully heal. Revascularization can be completed by vascular surgeons to help re-establish the blood circulation in the area that the wound is impacting; and can, in turn, help save the patient's limb. The impeding blood flow to the patient's wound, either on their arms or legs, can be done through vascular studies including an angioplasty/stenting, endovascular, or bypass surgery.

A referral is needed to see a vascular surgeons and there are a number of health conditions for which your primary physician may refer you. These include:

  • Any patient with an abnormal blood pressure study such as an ankle brachial index (ABI), Doppler/Segmental Pressure or Art Duplex.
    • Abnormal number (<.9)
    • Abnormal waveform (monophasic)
    • Abnormal digit index (<.7)
  • Any patient with a poorly healing wound, specifically poor improvement in over three week time period
  • Any patient with significant symptoms
  • Any patient who’s “not making sense!” and your physician would like the patient to be reviewed by a vascular specialist.

Remember, being referred to a vascular specialist doesn’t necessarily mean you will be undergoing a procedure. You will receive an advanced vascular evaluation and next steps will be then determined.

For more information about Wound Healing, please call Spencer Hospital's Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center at (712) 264-6392. For more information about vascular studies, please contact your vascular specialist or the Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Siouxland at (605) 217-5617.

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About The Author

Jordan Achterhoff

Jordan Achterhoff serves as the director of Spencer Hospital's Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center. Jordan received her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree from Iowa State University with a minor in Community and Public Health. Jordan enjoys finding advanced solutions for pat ... read more