Research may help diabetics avoid limb loss - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Research may help diabetics avoid limb loss

Walking, even with crutches, is a blessing for Christa Cooley. Cooley has diabetes and a small blister on her foot turned dangerous when flesh eating bacteria took hold.

Dr. David Armstrong says many physicians would have cut her leg off because of how far advanced the infection had gotten.

But Dr. Armstrong saved Cooley's leg. And now he's leading a study looking at bone infections in diabetics.

"What we actually found was that many of these patients who were destined for a high level amputation in the past, did not necessarily need that amputation."

Infected foot wounds are the most common reason diabetics end up losing limbs. They can't feel pain.

"Ultimately, they can wear a hole in their foot just as you or i might wear a hole in our stocking or shoe. And that hole, that is called a wound or an ulcer."

But Armstrong's team has found aggressive surgery to cut out the bone infection, while sparing important blood vessels, is very successful.

"We call it the toe and the flow philosophy, where there's someone managing the foot and there's someone managing the blood flow into the foot."

Cooley says she's glad she's not in a wheelchair and Dr. Armstrong says "we're starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel and it's really exciting."

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