Living Bandage

Doctor: Living Bandage Changes Wound Care By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr. The LINK News

Oceanport—David LaPorta, who grew up in West Long Branch and graduated from Shore Regional High School, is now a Diplomat of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and Fellow of the American College of Foot Surgeons. He is also one of a few doctors using a new technique to help patients suffering with diabetic foot problems.

Diabetic foot ulcers are open sores that often do not heal and may lead to serious complications. People with diabetes are prone to foot ulcers because of complications associated with this disease, such as poor circulation, loss of feeling in the bottom of the feet and a diminished response to infection.

Dr David LaPorta Wound Treatment Center

Dr. David LaPorta, an Oceanport resident, is one of the leading foot surgeons using a living skin substitute to help treat open wounds.

Between 600,000 and 800,000 people in the United States suffer from foot ulcers. The most severe complications can lead to amputation of the affected area.

One of the national trends of treatment is amputation, which has actually increased from 50,000 in 1986 to 86,000 in 2000. There are between 60,000 to 70,000 diabetes related lower extremity amputations annually, of which 85 percent are preceded by a diabetic foot ulcer. These ulcers cost the U.S. healthcare system over $1 billion annually, not to mention the devastating effects these wounds have on patients, their lifestyles and productivity.

Historically, diabetic foot ulcers occur most often after the age of 40. Ninety percent of Americans are in this age group. However, according to LaPorta, a board certified foot surgeon, “Every year, my diabetic patients get younger and younger.”
“It’s really common sense,” said Dr. LaPorta. “The longer a diabetic ulcer remains unhealed and open, the greater the chance bacteria have of entering the wound and causing a deep infection which may lead to limb loss.” People with diabetes are further hampered by impairments in wound healing.

Traditional therapies physicians employ to help heal wounds include topical ointments, offloading, antibiotics and wound debridements to try and stimulate healing. For years practitioners have known that despite all of these conventional treatments and the best of care, many wounds still fail to heal. But recent technological advances have helped to significantly reduce wound healing times resulting in a better quality of life.

“We now have a better understanding of wound healing on a cellular level and we can actually customize our therapy to each individual patient,” said LaPorta. “We also have developed a Wound Treatment Center at Monmouth Medical Center that utilizes a multidisciplinary team composed of plastic and general surgeons, podiatrists, and nurses certified in wound care.”

According to Monmouth’s wound care team physician Dr. George Fahoury, “Our outcomes have consistently demonstrated that the physician team concept results in shorter healing times.”

Now that researchers have uncovered the cellular and enzymatic events that inhibit a wound from healing, they have been able to develop a new medical technology that combines living, fast-growing human cells within a high tech mesh to create a laboratory grown skin substitute.

According to LaPorta clinical trials have shown that this treatment promotes healing significantly faster than ulcers treated with conventional therapy alone. This living skin substitute is FDA approved for both diabetic foot ulcers and lower extremity venous ulcers.

“Imagine, years ago we would need to hospitalize a patient, and under anesthesia, take a donor piece of skin from another part of the body to cover the non healing wound site,” said LaPorta.

Today, he simply picks up the phone, orders a piece of living skin substitute for the patient and applies it under sterile conditions in a doctor’s treatment room without any type of anesthetic.

“This treatment modality has simply been revolutionary for us,” LaPorta said. For more information, please call the Wound Treatment Center at Monmouth Medical Center at (732) 923-6060.

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