Hyperbaric oxygen therapy brings healing to a chronic wound and critical condition.
Roger Hrouda, 75, is a retired plant supervisor, Vietnam War veteran and Commander of the Painesville VFW. Complications from exposure to Agent Orange resulted in a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in his early 40s. And although he managed his diabetes with oral medications, numbness and poor healing in his feet increased as time went on and the condition progressed.
On July 11, 2018, Roger visited podiatrist Carissa Sharpe, DPM, with an infection in the second toe of his right foot that started as a simple ingrown toenail. Dr. Sharpe treated the resulting abscess and cellulitis and started Roger on oral antibiotics. She also sent a culture of the bacteria to the lab for testing to determine the best antibiotic treatment. But when Roger returned one week later for follow-up, Dr. Sharpe found exposed bone at the wound. Right away, she sent Roger for an MRI, which verified osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone.
“Osteomyelitis usually starts with an open sore, lesion or ulcer, but can be spread throughout the body by the bloodstream,” explains Dr. Sharpe. “It can spread quickly and become more difficult to manage, even with IV antibiotics. Left untreated, infections can lead to sepsis, which can be life-threatening. It was important that we moved quickly and performed surgery once we discovered his condition.”
So, on July 20, at the Mentor Surgery Center, Dr. Carissa Sharpe’s husband, medical partner and podiatric surgeon, Jonathan Sharpe, DPM, amputated Roger’s second toe, removing the infection and hoping to stop further disease. But Roger returned again in October with severe infection and osteomyelitis in the third toe, which also required amputation.
As time went on, though, diabetes and poor blood supply continued to complicate Roger’s foot health and osteomyelitis condition. Two years later, in September and October 2020 and again in January 2021, osteomyelitis, foot ulcers and gangrene made further foot bone amputations necessary. Those surgeries were performed at TriPoint Medical Center.
“Early intervention is so important, especially for diabetics,” Dr. Carissa Sharpe urges. “If you see a red spot, a small abrasion or a cut in the skin that just doesn’t look right, see a doctor right away. Infection doesn’t always mean amputation. We pride ourselves on excellent preventive and conservative care, including IV antibiotics. Each patient’s treatment plan is individualized to best meet their needs and optimize healing.”
After five amputation surgeries and extensive IV antibiotic treatments directed by infectious disease specialist Olusegun Ogunlesi, MD, Roger was left with about half of his original right foot. True healing seemed out of reach.
To create a plan to beat the condition, on December 21, 2020, Roger met with Dr. Carissa Sharpe and Lake West’s Wound Care & Hyperbaric Treatment Center staff for a comprehensive assessment and wound evaluation. The Wound Care Center (WCC) specializes in advanced wound care for patients with chronic non-healing wounds. Its doctors and nurses have a wide range of expertise to handle varied circumstances and challenges. And WCC has earned the Center of Distinction Award from Healogics, Inc. for extraordinary patient satisfaction, healing rate and other key performance indicators.
“The Wound Care Center is a Center of Excellence,” says Dr. Carissa Sharpe. “It’s run by nurses and a team that provides extraordinary compassionate care to all patients. I wouldn’t be able to provide the care my patients need without the Wound Care Center team by my side.”
After his fifth amputation surgery, Roger began Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) treatments. HBOT helps the body’s wound-healing mechanism function more effectively. While enclosed in a clear acrylic chamber at a greater-than-normal atmospheric pressure (like diving underwater to 60 feet), Roger breathed pure oxygen, which increased the amount of healing oxygen to his tissues. The treatment was completely non-invasive and comfortable. Roger was able to watch television or listen to music during 60 two-hour treatments, Monday through Friday, February 12 to May 18, 2021.
“When I heard about hyperbaric oxygen, I didn’t know anything about it and didn’t really understand or believe that oxygen could make that much difference,” says Roger. “But with the hyperbaric chamber treatments, things started getting better faster.”
HBOT tipped the scale to heal Roger’s foot. And the WCC provided other therapies to assist healing. These included continuous suction of the wound with Negative Wound Pressure Therapy, Apligraf and Dermagraft skin substitutes to provide cells and nutrients that promote and assist healing, and collagen to promote tissue build-up.
“Roger was committed to his plan of care, doing everything we recommended,” says Wound Care Center program director Jennifer Romano, BSN, RN. “With patient compliance, physician and team collaboration and the use of our advanced wound care therapies, there is hope for healing.”
“Everyone at the Wound Care Center was wonderful!” says Roger. “From the receptionist who schedules the appointments to the nurses and doctors, they really care about their patients. Today I feel good and have no pain!”
Meet the providers
Carissa Sharpe, DPM
Office: Concord, 216-658-0111
Jonathan Sharpe, DPM
Office: Concord, 216-658-0111
Olusegun Ogunlesi, MD
Specialty: infectious diseases
Office: Mentor, 440-867-4800