Northside Hopes to Prevent Amputations in Patients with Limb Threat, Offers Comprehensive Access to Specialists

Posted on: September 20, 2016


Approximately 8.5 million people in the United States have peripheral artery disease (PAD), the narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the limbs.[*1] Left untreated, PAD can lead to wounds that cannot heal, and ultimately to limb loss.  In fact, each year more than 160,000 Americans lose their limbs due to complications from PAD. [*2]

“Many of these amputations can be avoided if the affected patients receive timely, multispecialty, coordinated treatment” said Dr. Catalin Harbuzariu, Northside Hospital vascular surgeon.  “However, many patients may have a negative outcome due to delay in initiation of care or a lack of coordination between specialties.”

Loss of a limb is devastating for patients and their families.  That’s why Northside Hospital has launched a comprehensive Limb Preservation Program, bringing together a multidisciplinary team of specialists, who work to identify patients with threat of limb loss and care for them using the latest advancements in evidence-based medicine and minimally-invasive surgery in order to avoid unnecessary amputations.

The Northside Hospital Limb Preservation Program includes physicians specialized in wound care, infectious disease, diabetes and nutrition, podiatry, plastic surgery and vascular surgery, and serves as an extension of care for referring primary care physicians and specialty clinics.

“We established easily identifiable clinical situations which will trigger the multispecialty evaluation,” said Dr. Harbuzariu.  “Typical patients will come to us with a wound, infection or pain in the foot or ankle that has lasted more than two weeks, foot or toe discoloration with no detectable arterial pulse in the foot, or a wound that has not responded to treatment properly.”

Patients may be identified as having a limb-threatening condition in the primary care physician offices, specialty offices or through Northside’s Emergency Department or inpatient units.  Once identified, the appropriate multispecialty evaluation and testing will be immediately initiated for each patient.  A dedicated nurse navigator will assist in scheduling the initial evaluation, ensure coordinated treatment across all necessary specialties, and guide patients through the follow-up appointments and the recommended lifestyle changes.

“To have a dedicated limb preservation nurse navigator, who follows patients throughout their treatment and calls them regularly after discharge to ensure that the care plan is being followed and the consultations are progressing well, combined with the expertise of our providers, is key to successful treatment and to returning of these patients to a functional life”, said Dr. Harbuzariu

Limb preservation services are currently available at Northside Hospital-Forsyth.  For more information about the Limb Preservation Program at the Northside Hospital, call 770-292-5462 or visit


[*1] Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Fact Sheet; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website; Accessed Aug. 25, 2016.

[*2] Allie DE, Hebert CJ, Ingraldi A, Patlola RR, Walker CM. 24-Carat Gold, 14-Carat Gold, or Platinum Standards in the Treatment of Critical Limb Ischemia: Bypass Surgery or Endovascular Intervention? J Endovsc Ther. 2009;16(Suppl I):I134–I146.

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