University Hospital Sharjah (UHS), a world class integrated medical centre located adjacent to the medical campus of Sharjah University and a major referral centre in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates, has helped a 76-year-old Emirati diabetic woman get back on her feet after a successful procedure by its reputed vascular surgeon. During the two-hour long angioplasty procedure, Dr Amit Kumar, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at UHS, removed several blockages in her leg’s arteries, allowing her to walk again after many years of being wheelchair-bound.
The patient, Fatima Salim Al Marri, has been a diabetic with high blood pressure for the past 18 years, and has to be on a breathing machine because of her collapsed lungs. The procedure has brought great relief to Al Marri and her daughter, who said her mother can now stand.
One of the severe complications due to diabetes are blockages in the arteries or “hardening of arteries”, which come about due to excess glucose or blood sugar in the bloodstream. When the arteries are blocked, there is severe pain in the leg.
The diabetic patient had to have her blood circulation checked every three weeks, her daughter said. She was full of praise for the professional care at UHS and said the doctors asked very specific questions about her mother’s condition to ensure a proper assessment of the problem.
The surgeon said that because the blockages in the leg are long, in this case of about 15 cm, the procedure to open up the blockages was complex, especially due to the severe condition of the patient. “UHS has the latest Peripheral Vascular Lab that accurately measures the blood supply of the arteries to the leg or arm, and helps pinpoint which part of the foot is receiving how much oxygen – a method far more accurate than simply checking for the location of the blockages in the blood vessels. When there is a blockage in the artery, the blood flow stops and makes it hard for a sore or infection to heal. The UHS Peripheral Vascular Lab is one of few machines in the Gulf region and assists in unnecessary amputations,” continued Dr Amit.
Coupled with the Peripheral Vascular Lab, UHS also has a Cath Lab (Catheterisation Laboratory) that helps visualise the arteries of the heart and treat any narrowing or other abnormality.
In an angioplasty procedure, a long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted through a tiny incision in the groin and is guided to the blocked area. A special balloon attached to the tube is inflated and deflated several times, and pushes the plaque in the artery against the artery walls, widening the vessel.
Dr Amit continued, “Diabetic patients usually come very late to see a specialist, after the complications of the disease have worsened and have already affected various parts of the body. There is a general lack of awareness (about effect of diabetes on blood vessels and the blockages they cause).”
He also stressed that if there is constant pain in the leg when sitting or lying down, it is time to see a professional at the earliest. Diabetics should stop smoking and maintain a healthy body weight—an astounding one out five people in the UAE suffer from diabetes, which is about 19 percent of the population.