How To Get a Second Opinion: Important Steps Before Agreeing to an Amputation
Many people fear that seeing a doctor will lead to bad news. With peripheral arteryArteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body. disease (PAD), early detection is important. Getting appropriate screening and treatment could help stop the disease from getting worse – possibly saving a toe or leg from amputation,
However, there sometimes is a recommendation for amputation. If that happens to you or a loved one, remember that you do have the right to seek a second opinion. Getting a second opinion helps you know all your options and provides peace of mind about your decision.
Advanced PAD Symptoms and Treatment Options
It’s important to first understand the signs your body is telling you. If you feel leg pain during the night, experience wounds that aren’t healing, or have numb, cold toes or feet, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Amputation also can be an outcome for PAD as people with diabetes and PAD have a 5-10 times greater risk of amputation than people without diabetes.12
There are many treatment options for PAD, such as diet changes, exercise, medication, minimally invasive procedures and arterial bypass surgery(Arterial bypass surgery) Your doctor will create a graft bypass using a vessel from another part of the body or a blood vessel made of synthetic fabric. This technique allows blood to flow around – or bypass – the blocked or narrowed artery.. Before agreeing to an amputation, talk to another health care professional. Many other health factors can contribute to your life being at risk after amputation, including advanced age, heart failure, kidney disease and cancer.25
How to Get a Second Opinion
As you look for a second opinion, here are a few thing to remember:
- For advanced PAD often called critical limb ischemia or chronic limb threatening ischemia, it’s very important that you are treated by a vascular specialist. Unfortunately, not all physicians who treat PAD are skilled in treating the most advanced cases.
- If your current doctor says that you need an amputation, it’s often in your best interest to seek a second opinion before undergoing a life-changing procedure like amputation.
- You don’t need your current doctor’s permission to find another doctor. You can use CSI’s Find a Doctor tool as a resource to find nearby PAD specialists.
- Check your insurance plan to understand your coverage with any new physicians.
- As you research other practices, ask front-office staff if they have a limb salvage
As part of your ongoing care, make sure you have an angiogram before agreeing to an amputation. An angiogram test uses X-rays to take a series of images of your blood vessels. The results will show the extent of blockages and how to restore blood flow.
“Never agree to an amputation without an angiogram,” says Dr. Jihad Mustapha, Associate Professor of Medicine at Michigan State University. “An angiogram alone increases your chances of not having an amputation by approximately 90%.5
For More Information
Get additional information from more healthcare professionals will help you make treatment decisions. Learn more about second opinions on Stand Against Amputation website.