Vascular surgeons believe legs – and lives – are worth saving

Nov 28, 2023

Underserved communities continue to struggle with health care disparities such as diabetes and peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which can lead to limb amputation. Patients in these communities can rely on vascular surgeons, especially those affiliated with the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS), who work tirelessly to offer patients a range of resources and initiatives aimed at limb salvage. These vascular surgeons stand up to health care inequalities and help patients avoid life-altering outcomes by providing tailored assistance and support. 

A Disconcerting Disparity: Higher Rates of Amputation Among Black Patients 

Anahita Dua, MD, a vascular surgeon and SVS member, recently wrote an article for the New York Times that shed light on the disproportionately higher rates of limb amputation among Black patients, and what can be done about it. 

Vascular surgeons are uniquely equipped to tackle the diseases and conditions that place patients at risk of limb amputation. The SVS offers comprehensive resources and initiatives to combat this threat. Here are some of the noteworthy initiatives and individuals making a difference: 

Veith Lectureship: The Veith Lectureship is a lecture series that gathers experts to discuss insights and advancements in vascular surgery, including limb salvage techniques. 

Pocket guidelines: The SVS has released a series of digital pocket guidelines covering a range of critical vascular conditions. These concise and comprehensive pocket guides cover topics such as abdominal aortic aneurysm, chronic limb-threatening ischemia (CLI), follow-up after vascular surgery arterial procedures, management of diabetic foot, type B aortic dissections, venous leg ulcers and visceral peripheral arterial disease. 

Educational Initiatives: The SVS promotes education through webinars, courses and publications, translating guidelines into clinical practice to enhance patient outcomes. The webinar, “Translating Guidelines into Practice: Management of Patients with Varicose Veins of the Lower Extremities. PART II,” discusses the latest clinical practice guidelines for managing patients with varicose veins through available scientific evidence. The SVS offers a Complex Peripheral Vascular Intervention (CPVI) Skills Course that includes didactic and case-based learning and hands-on training. Through this course, health care professionals can familiarize themselves with the latest innovations and techniques in treating patients with PAD. 

BEST-CLI Clinical Trial: The Best Endovascular versus Best Surgical Therapy for Patients with Critical Limb Ischemia (BEST-CLI) clinical trial, conducted in collaboration with interventional radiologists, focuses on improving limb salvage outcomes. The New England Journal of Medicine has published the results. 

APMA/SVS Joint Guidelines: Collaborative clinical practice guidelines developed by the SVS in partnership with the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) to address foot-related issues, such as diabetic foot, based on a meta-analysis of available literature. 

Partnerships and Global Guidelines: Collaborations with experts like SVS President Joe Mills, MD, and David Armstrong, MD, along with other vascular surgeons, wrote the “Global Vascular Guidelines on the Management of Chronic Limb-Threatening Ischemia,” which signified the commitment to advancing limb salvage on a global scale. 

Vascular Health Step Challenge: The Vascular Health Step Challenge is an SVS Foundation initiative to raise awareness and funds for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Awareness Month, highlighting the dangers of PAD and its close link to the risk of limb amputations. 

Clinical Research Seed Grants: The SVS Foundation supports research to understand and mitigate healthcare disparities, particularly in vascular care. The 2018 Clinical Research Seed Grant project, “A Mixed-Methods Approach to Understanding Diabetes and Peripheral Arterial Disease Related Amputations in a Rural Population,” led by Samantha D. Minc, MD, focuses on understanding the root causes of amputation in rural populations with diabetes and PAD. 

Vascular Care for the Underserved: Vascular Care for the Underserved is an SVS Foundation-funded program focused on bringing vascular care to areas of need, particularly underserved areas. SVS member Kelly Kempe, MD, oversaw the "Disparities in Access to Care for Limb Salvage: The Oklahoma Project," which addressed the critical issue of health care disparities for the state’s indigenous and rural populations. 

Vascular Verification Program: The Vascular Verification Program is a collaboration between the American College of Surgeons and the SVS that enables participating hospitals to establish and enhance quality improvement and clinical care infrastructure for vascular surgery and interventional care. 

SVS Membership Sections: The SVS is committed to improving access to affordable care sites and supporting outpatient vascular care research through its membership sections. The Society created the Sub-Section on Outpatient and Office Vascular Care (SOOVC) in 2019 to advance patient care in outpatient settings. Additionally, the SVS established the Community Practice Section in 2021 to engage its members who practice in community settings. 

A Collective Effort to Eliminate Preventable Amputations

The efforts of vascular surgeons affiliated with the SVS continue to impact the battle against limb amputation disparities. With ongoing research, education and clinical guidelines, the SVS and its members work tirelessly to ensure all patients, regardless of their background, have access to the best possible care, ultimately forging a path toward a more equitable and limb-preserving future in health care. 



About the Society for Vascular Surgery:

The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. The organization was founded in 1946 and currently has a membership of more than 6,300. SVS membership is recognized in the vascular community as a mark of professional achievement.  

About the Society for Vascular Surgery Foundation:

The SVS Foundation is the charitable arm of the Society for Vascular Surgery. Since 1987, the Foundation has funded over $14 million in grants and awards. It is committed to funding the future of vascular health through its four pillars: research and innovation, community vascular care and patient education, disease prevention, and diversity, equity and inclusion. It supports innovative research initiatives and educational programs to improve patient care and outcomes.

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