Advanced Interventional Radiology Procedures in Weslaco Can Help Save Patients from Foot Amputations

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Dr. Michael DeCandia performing procedures to open blocked arteries in legs; benefitting diabetes, other patients

Dr. Michael DeCandia, Interventional Radiology physician at Knapp Medical Center, performs specialized procedures to open blocked blood vessels in the legs of diabetes and other patients from across the Valley.
Dr. Michael DeCandia, Interventional Radiology physician at Knapp Medical Center, performs specialized procedures to open blocked blood vessels in the legs of diabetes and other patients from across the Valley.

Mega Doctor News

Weslaco – Advanced interventional radiology procedures which are being performed at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco can help restore blood flow to the legs and feet of diabetics and other Valley patients – which can save them from having to have their foot or toes potentially amputated in some cases.

Dr. Michael DeCandia, an Interventional Radiology physician at Knapp, is a specialist in procedures to open the peripheral arteries which supply blood and oxygen to the feet.  If the blood flow to these arteries become blocked by fatty substances (plaque, cholesterol, etc.), the toes may become injured and diseased to the point that they cannot be saved.

Tragic cases in which a person has to have a foot or toe amputated can make the patient become unable to work or perform other functions at a relatively-young age — in many cases because of complications of diabetes, which is widespread in the Valley.

“Peripheral artery disease exists in most people in their 60s and much earlier in those with diabetes,” Dr. DeCandia said.  “Here at Knapp Medical Center, we utilize state-of-the-art angioplasty equipment, atherectomy devices, and stenting as needed to open the blood vessels in the legs.”

Atherectomy is considered a minimally-invasive option to cut away plaque which has built up inside the walls of a blood vessel.  The patient receives local anesthesia, and then a catheter or tube (which resembles a thin wire but is hollow) is inserted into the artery in the leg. A tiny blade at the end of the catheter is used to remove the fatty material causing the blockage, from inside the blood vessel.

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In other cases, Dr. DeCandia uses balloons and special catheters to “recanalize long-term occluded (blood) vessels.”

Dr. DeCandia has nearly 20 years of experience performing these specialized “lower-extremity angiogram re-vascularization” procedures with Valley patients.

Steven Garcia, Director of Imaging Services for Knapp Medical Center, said when it comes to peripheral arteries such as those in the legs, interventional radiologists like Dr. DeCandia work to open the blood vessel as a cardiologist would.

“In the world of physician specialists, Dr. DeCandia is basically an ‘internal plumber’ … he goes into the arteries to try to unplug them,” added Orlando Lopez, an Imaging Services Technologist who assists Dr. DeCandia with many of his procedures in the Interventional Radiology (IR) Lab at Knapp.

Angiograms (X-ray of the arteries and veins) are performed in the specially-equipped, all-digital lab to see what the issues are which may be impacting a patient’s circulation, such as blockages, narrowing in a blood vessel and other problems in the blood vessels.   The various procedures, which are performed through the groin in either leg, represent less-invasive options to surgery and other techniques, in many cases.

In addition to performing the procedures to unclog arteries, Dr. DeCandia is also the specialist in the Valley when it comes to de-clogging “conduits” in dialysis patients.  These are “dialysis arterial venous shunts” which were previously inserted in a patient’s arm, in order to provide access to their blood vessels during dialysis treatments.

However, in some patients this connection between the vein and artery becomes plugged up or narrowed, which can make it more difficult for the patient to receive their dialysis treatments.  In these cases, Dr. DeCandia uses X-rays to visualize the problem — and then may inflate a balloon and place a stent in the patient’s vein, to restore blood flow in the area of the shunt connection.

Dialysis patients from all over the Valley come to Weslaco for this specialized procedure with Dr. DeCandia at Knapp Medical Center.   In many cases, the patient is able to resume their normal activities later the same day. In fact, with most of the procedures that Dr. DeCandia performs, the patient is in-and-out of the hospital within a day.

“We try to be very efficient with our care,” Dr. DeCandia said. “We perform procedures with a short recovery time.”

In addition to Dr. DeCandia, radiologists at Knapp Medical Center include Dr. Allan Kapilivsky, MD (who is one of only a few board-certified nuclear radiologists in the Valley) and Dr. Carlos Maldonado, DO.  For more information on Imaging and Radiology Services at Knapp, please call 956-969-5461 or visit www.KnappMed.org/Services/Imaging-Services.aspx.