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Am Surg. 1998 Feb;64(2):175-7.

Sociology of care in patients with severe peripheral vascular disease.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Mercy Catholic Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) remains a leading cause of limb amputation, resulting in a significant morbidity and disability. This study was undertaken to evaluate whether earlier referral of the patients with severe limb-threatening PVD to a vascular surgeon could result in a higher limb-salvage rate. Seventy-one consecutive patients, 48 men and 23 women, with mean ages of 67.1 and 70.4 years, respectively, were studied; there were 64 blacks (42 men, 22 women). Risk factors included smoking (39 men, 20 women) and diabetes mellitus (31 men, 11 women). The delay in seeking medical attention in patients with rest pain was 9 to 24 weeks (mean, 14.2), and with nonhealing ulcers the delay was 4 to 20 weeks (mean, 6.7). An additional delay of 11.7 weeks was noted if the patient was seen by a primary-care physician, and only 4 weeks if the patient was seen in the Emergency Department. Ten primary amputations were performed; 61 patients underwent limb-salvaging revascularization procedures, with a success rate of 87 per cent; 8 patients had below-the-knee amputation as a result of failed bypass. Delay in referral of patients with severe PVD can cause an increase in limb loss.

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