As someone with diabetes, Theresa Falcicchio knew to track her blood sugar, take her medication, and check her feet for sores. However, it didn’t take long for a seemingly minor blister to snowball into a serious condition that threatened to take her leg.
On a warm fall day at her grandson’s football game, Theresa, 66, a recent widow, developed a small blister on the outer toe of her right foot. Because she had poor circulation due to diabetes, she went to her doctor, who prescribed ointment. A few days later, the toe turned black with gangrene. To try to save the toe, her podiatrist consulted with a vascular surgeon, who placed a stent in her leg to improve blood flow to her feet.
Unfortunately, the toe didn’t heal and had to be amputated. Soon after the surgical staples were removed, the incision opened again. Theresa was prescribed antibiotics to ward off infection, but the wound became painful and inflamed.
“It was very frightening, as everything changed so quickly,” recalls Theresa, pictured with one of her five grandchildren. “Just having a bedsheet touch my foot was painful.”
When the wound still hadn’t healed properly, a home health nurse recommended that she call the Central Jersey Wound Treatment Center at CentraState. There, board-certified podiatrist Anthony Fiorilli, DPM, diagnosed Theresa with a wound infection and peripheral vascular disease.
To treat the wound, board-certified interventional cardiologist Robert Kayser, MD, performed an angiogram to assess the extent of the vascular disease and placed a second stent to further improve blood flow. Dr. Fiorilli surgically removed infected tissue from Theresa’s foot and used staged synthetic skin grafts to close the wound, and board-certified infectious disease physician Ramanasri Kudipudi, MD, prescribed IV and oral antibiotics to treat the infection.
After she was discharged from the hospital, Theresa spent about four weeks at CentraState’s Applewood senior living community for daily wound care and IV antibiotics. Wound care was continued by board-certified physicians and nurses at CentraState’s Wound Treatment Center for about three months until the wound was completely healed. Now, she wears diabetic shoes and sees Dr. Fiorilli every two months for diabetic foot exams.
“Foot care is very important for people with diabetes,” Dr. Fiorilli says. “Even a simple nick while trimming your toenails can become infected. It’s important to check your feet daily and see a doctor if you notice anything unusual.”
A former nurse, Theresa says, “I’d never seen a wound like this. It was a nightmare. Dr. Fiorilli saved my foot and quite possibly my leg. I am so very grateful.”