Patients with diabetes are prone to developing ulcers and wounds, particularly on their lower extremities. According to Endocrinologist Vasdev Lohano, MD, “Because they often have neuropathy with numbness, patients with diabetes may be unaware of a problem that is developing, such as a blister. Their wounds may also be difficult to heal because of vascular problems and other effects of the disease.”
“At the Joslin Center,” said Dr. Lohano, “we look carefully at the individual’s metabolic status and work to optimize the patient’s control over their diabetes. Preventive care is very important and can decrease the risk of diabetic complications. We also check patients for conditions that can lead to wounds, such as calluses and skin breakdown. When we see a potential problem, we get the experts from the Wound Healing Center involved. They can take preventive steps, such as custom fitting a patient for orthotics, etc. Working as a team makes a real difference to our patients’ health.”
When Does a Wound Require Medical Attention?
How do you know if you have a wound that needs professional care? William T. Beasley, DPM, a specialist in podiatry, provided these guidelines:
- Puncture wounds. “They may heal over, entrap bacteria and create abscesses,” explained Dr. Beasley. “Germs have a great environment in which to grow and no way to exit.”
- Animal bites. “They can introduce nasty bacteria into the body,” said Dr. Beasley.
- Any boil or blister that is red, sore and tender. “Because of the increase in MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), these wounds need to be seen early on,” he said.
- Additional warning signs that healthy people should watch for in a wound include: worsening redness around the edges, red streaks, increase in pain or swelling, unpleasant odor, drainage, or lack of response to topical antibiotics.
- Any wound that doesn’t heal within a few weeks should be seen.
Dr. Beasley added, “Certain people are at much higher risk of infection when they have a wound and should see a doctor quickly. These include individuals with diabetes, a compromised immune system, or a condition called critical limb ischemia, which involves poor circulation. Wounds are particularly dangerous for these patients, putting them at risk for the loss of a limb or, in extreme cases, death. Seeing a doctor can prevent serious problems.”
New Center Features Two Hyperbaric Chambers
According to Dr. Chou, “Adding two chambers for hyperbaric oxygen therapy gives us another powerful modality with which to treat many different types of wounds.” What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy? The air we breathe normally consists of about 21 percent oxygen and 79 percent nitrogen. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an innovative treatment in which the patient breathes 100 percent oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. The treatment quickly delivers high concentrations of oxygen to the bloodstream. It promotes the healing of wounds and the growth of new blood vessels that enhance circulation. It is also effective in fighting infections caused by organisms that cannot live in an oxygenrich environment.
Wound Healing Center Open House
Monday, November 24, 4-6:30 pm.
Meet the staff, take a tour and enjoy refreshments.