Soothe your soles and save your toes
Brenda Lutzke is feeling lucky. She’s heading to Las Vegas after a rough beginning to her summer when she was facing amputation due to a diabetic wound on her left toe that would not heal.
“But I came here on a Monday and by Tuesday I started hyperbaric treatments,” she said. “Between the great care from Dr. Bauerly and the hyperbaric treatments, it’s finally healed!”
Lutzke received treatment for her diabetic osteomyelitis abscess at Hennepin Healthcare’s Center for Wound Healing and Limb Preservation located next to its nationally recognized, state-of-the-art hyperbaric chamber. They use a unique and innovative combination of resources to assess and treat patients with complex wound conditions and vascular issues.
“Brenda was close to losing her toe, but we treated her wound aggressively with the technology and proven therapies we’ve used on thousands of other patients and were able to save it,” explains her podiatrist, Dr. Nicole Bauerly. “It’s so rewarding to see this type of dramatic recovery.”
While Dr. Bauerly and her colleagues appreciate the opportunity to preserve limbs before it’s too late, they’d prefer that patients not wait and suffer so long before seeking advanced care.
“In fact, there are new guidelines out – that if your wound is not shrinking by half within four weeks you should be referred to a specialist,” she explains.
Non-healing wounds like Lutzke’s can often result from diabetes, a complication from a recent surgery or even frostbite where blood flow has been compromised. Restoring healthy blood flow is essential for those wounds to heal effectively, and hyperbaric oxygen is a proven therapy in new blood vessel growth toward that goal.
Hennepin Healthcare is the first in Minnesota to use the LUNATM Imaging System during wound assessment. It’s one of the tools Dr. Bauerly and her staff use to assess blood flow in these wounds to help guide treatment approaches and evaluate recovery.
“It’s a painless test that gives us an excellent real-time image of blood flow to the affected area, which can then tell us exactly how much tissue has been compromised,” said Dr. Bauerly. “It allows us to develop a robust treatment plan and monitor the progress of our interventions.”
On Wednesday, September 25 from 6-8pm Dr. Bauerly and her colleague Dr. Thomas Masters will be hosting “Soothe Your Soles: Treating Wounds with Hyperbaric Medicine.” Participants will tour the hyperbaric chamber and learn how it works, hear how wounds are assessed and treated, and for those with diabetes – learn about the unique care needs of the feet.
Hennepin Healthcare’s innovative approach to her diabetic wounds has helped improve Lutzke’s vacation plans, too. “Now I can go to Vegas – wearing sandals!”
Hennepin Healthcare has the only multi-chamber hyperbaric oxygen facility in the region that’s used for 24/7 emergency treatment of critically ill patients and those with limb or life-threatening infections. The Center for Hyperbaric Medicine program is one of only 60 programs in the country to achieve accreditation by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS). Approximately 5000 hyperbaric chamber treatments take place annually in Hennepin Healthcare’s facility. For more information about how hyperbaric medicine can assist with wound healing go to: https://www.hennepinhealthcare.org/specialty/center-for-hyperbaric-medicine/wound-healing/