Veteran's leg saved from amputation - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Veteran's leg saved from amputation

John Butler meets with Dr. Tyson Green at the CHRISTUS Wound Care Center to follow up on his dramatic leg healing.  (Source: KPLC) John Butler meets with Dr. Tyson Green at the CHRISTUS Wound Care Center to follow up on his dramatic leg healing. (Source: KPLC)

When a Lake Charles Army veteran was told he needed a leg amputation, he did not settle for one or two medical opinions.  He fought to save his leg and found someone willing to treat a wound he was told could not be healed.

74-year-old John Butler has served our country in the U.S. Army, then returned home from Germany to raise a family and work many years as a cook.  

As a veteran, he says his healthcare through the VA system left him bouncing around between providers and when he had a terrible wound that was only worsening, he was given a grim prognosis.

"He (the doctor) told me that he'd have to amputate my leg and I said, 'no, I don't agree with that.'"

Butler saw another doctor and amputation was still the recommended treatment, something Dr. Tyson Green with the CHRISTUS St. Patrick Wound Care Center says can be an unfortunate, unnecessary treatment recommendation.

"Because it's easy.  Unfortunately I hate to say that, but it's because it's easy, it's quick, it gets the patient in and out of there, but it's not a benign thing," said Dr. Green.

In fact, Dr. Green says repeat amputations, even the risk of death, increase exponentially.

"Over 50 percent of those patients will have another amputation within three years," he said.  "Some studies actually show 50 percent of those patients will be deceased in five years after a major amputation."

After many months of seeking proper care, Butler ended up at CHRISTUS St Patrick Hospital, where a nurse recommended he see Dr. Green.  At the Wound Care Center, LUNA microfluorescence angiography, the only imaging of its kind in the region, showed the tissue and blood flow in real time.

"We know that the blood flow is good to the base of the wound," said Dr. Green.  "We're just seeing areas of dry, non-viable tissue on top, so this has excellent healing potential within the actual wound bed itself."

The LUNA scan really proved to be the game-changer in saving Butler's leg.  Dr. Green says without seeing the blood flow, wound healing can really be a guessing game for specialists.

"The LUNA machine allowed us to see what was viable and what wasn't.  We removed the non-viable tissue and allowed for that good tissue to come over the tendon that was exposed," said Dr. Green.

For eight months, Butler underwent hyperbaric oxygen treatments and whirlpool sessions to help get his leg healthy again.  He says it was all worth saving his leg.

"Whatever it takes, whatever it takes," said Butler.

Butler is active in his church, even serving again as the cleaning crew for the property.  He is also back to fishing with his church friends.

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