Standing on his own two feet

Standing on his own two feet

Arnold Comer had just received a dire diagnosis and was looking for hope — and a second opinion.

“I had ulcers — big holes in the bottom of my feet,” he recalls. “And the doctor told me they had to cut off both my feet.”

A friend urged him to seek help at the Christiana Care’s Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center. With advanced technology and expert care, the center offers treatment for the most difficult wounds.

“We have had a number of patients who were scheduled for amputations come to us,” said Nicholas Biasotto, D.O., the center’s medical director. “In many cases, we were able to save their limbs.”

Comer, 61, was treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, an advanced therapy in which the patient is placed in a chamber. The patient’s circulatory system is then saturated with oxygen, resulting in more oxygen going to the tissues. The therapy accelerates healing and promotes the formation of new blood vessels and nerve endings in the injured tissues.

The center brings together a variety of medical specialties and the latest techniques, including skin substitutes and advanced dressings.

“Mr. Comer had a chronic wound, clear to the bone, that required a number of different treatments,” said Raymond DiPretoro, DPM, chief, Podiatric Surgery Services at Christiana Care.

Dr. DiPretoro debrided the ulcers on Comer’s feet, removing dead tissue to encourage growth of the remaining healthy tissue. He referred him to a vascular surgeon for endovascular surgery, a minimally invasive technique that improved the circulation of blood to his lower limbs.

In order to relieve the pressure on the soles of Comer’s feet, Dr. DiPretoro lengthened a tendon on the top of his foot. He removed part of the bone that was protruding on the bottom of his foot and realigned the major joint in his big toe.

The surgery was performed on one foot at a time to allow Comer to have greater mobility during his recovery. Throughout the process, Comer was an active partner in his care.

“He was a very engaged patient, who was diligent about wearing his cast and taking his antibiotics,” Dr. DiPretoro said. “He very much wanted to get better and was part of the solution.”

Today, he is happy to be standing on his own two feet. On most evenings, he walks down the street from his home in Wilmington and unlocks the doors for services at Faith Tabernacle United Holy Church.

“It takes me a little longer to walk, but I am still walking,” he said. “I am extremely blessed.”