Your Health Matters: New vascular surgeon says screening key to avoiding amputations

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If you or a loved one has diabetes you know keeping their legs healthy is important and challenging.

While there has been a dramatic drop in the rate of diabetes-related amputations in the U.S., according to the CDC, one local doctor believes the numbers are still too high.

Melinda just wants her mom as healthy as possible and to keep her moving.

Melinda Schade says, “That’s what we come for, because we want to keep her mobile, because here quality of life is going to be so much better.”

But Carolyn’s Type II diabetes is a daily concern, and led to the amputation of her right leg a few years ago.

“I got a sore on my heal which we couldn’t heal, so the leg had to come off. I can get around pretty well, but it’s not like it used to be,” Carolyn says.

So, now the priority is keeping Carolyn’s other leg healthy. The key to that is vascular screening to make sure blood is flowing properly. If it’s not, Dr. Laurich can clean out the blockages and restore normal function.

Dr. Laurich says, “What we do now-a-days is use wires, catheters to get through the blockages. I vessel can be completely blocked for long segments for 20, 30+ cm. We can get to that blockage, actually shave that blockage out now, effectively.”

Melinda says, “So, she just had that procedure done. He went in the cath lab and just cleaned it up a little bit, and it’s like a day. It’s not invasive, it doesn’t hurt her – it’s just a little uncomfortable for a day and then she’s up and doing her business the next day.”

Chad Laurich is the only board certified vascular surgeon in the area. Carolyn recently followed him from Sioux Falls to Midlands Clinic in Dakota Dunes, where Dr. Laurich says there’s a huge opportunity to bring experience and rapidly improving technology to people who really need it.

Dr. Laurich says, “We see so many people who have an amputation without a vascular evaluation, and that’s just not good care in 2018.”

His passion is helping patients like Carolyn maintain quality of life and avoid amputations.

Dr. Laurich says, “If we keep people’s flow open to their legs, they walk, they stay independent, they stay out of care facilities. Not only does that extend life, but it adds life to their years.”

Dr. Laurich says if you’re 40 and have diabetes, it’s a good time to start vascular screening.
If you’re 50 with high blood pressure or cholesterol or heart disease, you should also be screened.

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