Getting her feet back "in circulation": Frances' story
Frances Schwantz's foot hurt. Three of her toes were dark. And the discoloration was moving up her foot.
When she came to the Vascular Center at Mercy Hospital, she feared she might lose part of her foot.
Upon examining her foot, William McMillan, MD, quickly ordered a CT angiogram. The new, non-invasive test revealed an aneurysm that weakened an artery behind Schwantz's right knee.
Schwantz had peripheral artery disease. PAD causes more than 70 percent of all amputations (removal of a limb or a part of a limb).
"Tiny clots were forming and being released into the blood stream to her toes, causing lack of blood flow," says Kitty Skoog, RN, nurse clinician at the Vascular Center. "The blockage could have caused tissue death in Frances' toes and/or foot."
To save her foot, Schwantz checked into the hospital for surgery. McMillan, a vascular surgeon, took part of a vein from her left leg and used it to replace the section of damaged artery in her right leg.
The surgery returned healthy blood flow to Schwantz's leg and foot. It also helped her again enjoy the things she loves, including her West Highland Terrier, Fritz, and gardening.
"I planted flowers yesterday," Schwantz says.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects up to 10 percent of people between the ages of 60 and 69. Nearly 20 percent of people over age 70 have it.
PAD results from atherosclerosis. This "hardening of the arteries" can come alongside coronary artery disease and stroke.
You may have PAD if you experience…
- leg pain that occurs with walking and eases after resting a few minutes
- discomfort because blocked arteries cannot deliver enough oxygenated blood to leg muscles
- changes in skin color
If you think you might have PAD, ask your doctor about an ankle-brachial index or ABI. This simple blood pressure measurement of the arms and legs can determine PAD or other blood circulation problems.
Allina's Vascular Services
The Vascular Center of Mercy Hospital
The Vascular Center of Unity Hospital
Source: Mercy Hospital, Healthy Communities, fall 2004
First published: 05/09/2005
Last updated: 05/09/2005
Reviewed by: Paul Kleeberg, MD, medical director, Internet Services, Allina Hospitals & Clinics