The Froedtert & MCW Limb Preservation Program provides a dedicated resource for patients experiencing limb-threatening conditions. Our multidisciplinary team uses the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques and works collaboratively to provide you with options instead of amputation.

Who Is at Risk for Amputation

Several conditions and injuries can lead to damage that threatens an arm or a leg, including:

  • Vascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Trauma, including previous trauma with persistent pain
  • Limb-threatening infections
  • Cancerous bone tumors (sarcoma)
  • Benign tumors and bone growths
  • Nerve injury
  • Blood flow issues
  • Chronic wounds

What Is Limb Preservation

Our goal is to avoid full or partial amputation of your arm or leg, while also restoring as much use of the limb as possible. Our limb preservation team uses several techniques to do this. These vary from patient to patient depending on the condition and the patient's overall health. These techniques include:

  • Medication
  • Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or diabetes management
  • Nutrition that promotes wound healing
  • Advanced imaging techniques to identify what might be impeding blood flow
  • Minimally invasive procedures, including endovascular and catheter-based procedures to improve blood flow
  • Surgical bypass
  • Wound care

You will need to adhere to regular follow-up care, such as imaging, clinic visits and wound assessments (if applicable).

Limb Preservation Team

Limb preservation is a collaborative approach between experts to save an arm or a leg. Our experts include:

  • Vascular surgeons — Connect blood vessels and re-establish blood flow to as much of the arm or leg as possible.
  • Vascular and interventional radiologists — Provide imaging to determine whether or not a lack of arterial blood flow is contributing to your condition, as well as image-guided treatment to reduce tumors and obstructions in the arm or leg.
  • Orthopaedic surgeons — Correct structural abnormalities in bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles. They also remove tumors and damaged tissues.
  • Plastic surgeons — Work with vascular surgeons to reconstruct the limb, correct tissue loss, minimize scarring and improve the appearance of the limb.
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors and therapists — Provide therapy after treatment to help you regain as much functionality as possible in your arm or leg. Part of this care may include participation in our Peripheral Artery Disease Rehabilitation Program. This nonsurgical treatment program is designed to help improve your walking ability and decrease leg pain and discomfort.

Depending on your unique circumstances, we also have access to a host of other experts as needed — including nutritionists and social workers.

Risks of Limb Preservation

Each procedure is different, as are the techniques — based on which limb is affected and the type of injury or condition. There is always a risk of infection, and that infection could spread beyond the limb. Your doctor will talk to you about the potential risks and outcomes of your treatment. 

In order to reduce the risk of complications, it is important to participate in all follow-up care. After your treatment, your doctor will ask you to come in regularly to check the limb and to adjust your care as needed. You may need to see other doctors to help with rehabilitation and wound care. Our aim is for you to have as much use of your arm or leg as possible following treatment.

Limb Preservation Care at Froedtert Hospital

Our Limb Preservation Program team has a long history of treating patients with threatened limbs. Froedtert Hospital is a high-volume center with experience in treating the most complex cases using the latest treatment options — including minimally invasive and image-guided procedures, and we might be able to offer new options when patients have been told no options are left.

Second Opinion Program for Damaged Limbs

We offer a robust Vascular Second Opinion Program, which can confirm a diagnosis or provide alternative treatment options, particularly for patients with chronic limb function concerns or nonhealing wounds. Following a referral, our program will work with your primary care or referring doctor to keep the care team informed of the diagnosis and treatments, and also to coordinate a long-term care plan that is convenient and offers the best possible outcome.

If this is an emergency, our team is available 24/7 referral resource to provide assistance. Clinical offices can call 414-805-4700 to activate our vascular emergency team. Additionally, the Froedtert & MCW Heart and Vascular Emergency Transport Service provides 24/7 medical support during transport for patients with a critical or complex conditions or injuries.