Amputation as a last resort – How TMC’s Save A Limb program is saving lives

It is no secret that we live in a region where diabetes is rampant.  Statewide, the statistics are stunning.  According to the American Diabetes Association, one out of every nine Arizonans – nearly 500,000 people – are affected by the disease.

One of the most devastating consequences of the disease is amputation, and with more than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occurring in people with diabetes, it is a common complication. And it doesn’t stop there with the loss of a limb; mortality rates increase with amputation.

Vascular surgeon Dr. Matthew Namanny, Saguaro Surgical

Vascular surgeon Dr. Matthew Namanny,
Saguaro Surgical

The goal of TMC’s Limb Salvage Team is to “save a limb, save a life.”  They work to keep these patients functional.  TMC’s Save A Limb program is a multidisciplinary approach to patients with advanced vascular disease or Peripheral Artery Disease (P.A.D.).  A team of vascular and podiatric surgeons, nurses, technicians and registered dieticians coordinate their care to save limbs and prevent amputations.  “The surgeons on this team are considered experts in this area,” explained Dr. Matthew Namanny, a vascular surgeon with Saguaro Surgical.  “If patients are suffering from severe P.A.D. or wounds, or if these patients are identified by physicians and nurses in hospitals and clinics, we want them sent here so that we can do everything possible to prevent that amputation.  That’s what we want to be known for.”

The team uses the most advanced methods available to treat patients, like rapid endovascular interventions, synthetic skin substitutes and prophylactic elective surgery to eliminate biomechanical foot abnormalities.

“We have a prevalent Native American population here, and a lot of our population is at high risk for P.A.D. because of obesity, coronary artery disease, and hypertension.  Having the Save A Limb program available at a community hospital is such a huge benefit to patients in Southern Arizona as well as the rest of the state.  Our team helps hundreds of patients a year, but we know there are hundreds more who could benefit, ” Dr. Namanny said.

For more information about TMC’s Save A Limb program, please click here.

KVOA News 4 Tucson highlights new hybrid operating rooms

KVOA News 4 Tucson recently aired a story about the two new hybrid operating rooms that will open in TMC’s Orthopaedic and Surgical tower May 6.  The state-of-the art equipment inside the rooms will instantly land Tucson among the best places in the country for vascular disease treatment.

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March Internal Vascular Series: DVT

During a traffic jam, the torrent of vehicles trying to get out of the area make it nearly impossible for other cars to come in. 

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is like a major traffic jam in a large vein in the body, usually in the legs – except the traffic jam is caused by a blood clot that develops.  Blood can’t get into the leg because there is so much blockage with the blood trying to get out of the leg.  The result?  A leg that suddenly swells up – sometimes even doubling in size.  If the clot breaks off, it can be life-threatening if left untreated.  Pulmonary embolism (PE) most commonly results from a clot that migrates to the lung, a process called venous thromboembolism (VTE).

DVT and its complications claim the lives of more people each year in the U.S. than breast cancer and AIDS combined!  A whopping 600,000 Americans are diagnosed with DVT annually, making it the third most common cardiovascular disease.  VTE is the leading cause of preventable hospital death.

Dr. Matthew Namanny,Saguaro Surgical

Dr. Matthew Namanny,
Saguaro Surgical

With a problem this prevalent, TMC has developed one of the busiest programs in the nation for minimally invasive DVT interventions.  Vascular surgeon Dr. Matthew Namanny from Saguaro Surgical estimates 80 to 200 of these procedures are done at TMC every year.  All are done in TMC’s hybrid operating room.

DVT awareness is gaining steam, thanks to efforts on all levels, from the nationwide Coalition to Prevent DVT, to the local level – where Dr. Namanny says educating others is not just part of the job, rather a true passion for him and his colleagues.  “We must take a multidisciplinary team approach to take care of these patients.  We all have to look for them and ask about risk factors,” he said.

Namanny in action 2Driving that point home was one of the main messages of Tucson Medical Center’s internal vascular series for the month of March, which focused on DVT.  Dr. Namanny spoke to health care workers who play a role in preventing these clots at the patients’ bedside.

Who’s at risk for blood clots?  Anyone.  “I’ve had patients who were in their teens all the way to patients in their 80’s and 90’s.  It’s not just a disease that affects older people.  It does have an increased prevalence with age, people who travel and take long flights, people who are immobilized.  Patients who have had major surgery, trauma, cancer, or who have had DVT in the past also have a higher risk, as do pregnant women, and any woman on oral contraceptives,” Dr. Namanny said.

The symptoms can be very subtle, he explains, and can range from minor pain and swelling to legs that are massively swollen to the point where circulation is compromised.  If patients have had pulmonary embolism, they can also be short of breath. 

DVT is easier to treat the earlier it’s caught.  Patients are started on blood thinners right away.  If symptoms are severe, they’re evaluated for intervention and clot removal.  Treatment options have really advanced, as the problem can typically be fixed during an outpatient procedure. 

For more information about DVT, please click here.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461