As the leading cause of limb loss in the United States, diabetes claims a limb every 3.5 minutes. One doctor has pioneered an innovative solution that may change that number significantly. This new treatment, known as LimFlow therapy, has the potential to save many patients from experiencing a diabetic amputation by rerouting blood flow to the legs and feet using healthy veins to bypass blocked arteries. It was developed by Dr. Mehdi Shishehbor, president of University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute and an expert in reconstructing arteries to prevent amputations.
Reversing the direction of blood flow in the veins reroutes fresh oxygenated blood around the blocked arteries and restores blood flow to the lower extremities. Cindy Elford was one of the participants in a clinical trial, and the procedure saved her second leg from amputation. “It gave me my life back,” Cindy said. Data collected during this clinical trial was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and indicates a promising alternative to amputation.
“These results are potentially a game changer for these patients and their families,” added Dr. Daniel Simon, cardiologist and chief scientific officer at University Hospitals.
“Once approved by the FDA, we look forward to this procedure being widely available to patients who so desperately need it,” Dr. Shishehbor said. Although Cindy cautions that the procedure can cause extreme leg pain for several months before it subsides, she believes the downside is well worth saving a limb.
The Amputee Coalition estimates that more than 500 patients undergo an amputation every day, but LimFlow therapy is poised to be the solution many are hoping for.
Learn more about LimFlow in Gretchen Cuda Kroen’s recent article for Cleveland.com.