We all know the importance of heart health, but what about your vascular system – the arteries and veins outside of the brain or heart? A new Rapid Access Vascular Examination (RAVE) clinic at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is raising awareness about the importance of vascular health, and significantly improving access to care for patients with potential vascular disease.
The RAVE clinic is designed for patients who have lower limb wounds such as foot ulcers and tissue loss that are not healing. In most people, such an injury will heal without difficulty within a week or two. However, when there is an underlying vascular problem, the tissue does not heal and requires a vascular assessment.
Patients of the RAVE clinic are typically seen within two weeks from the time of referral from their health care provider.
“For patients who are showing symptoms of vascular disease, the RAVE clinic provides specialized testing to assess their vascular health, and a vascular surgeon is available to perform further evaluation or develop a care plan,” said Arlene Thomson, Senior Director, Cardiovascular Program Development and Implementation. “The clinic really prioritizes vascular health, which is especially important in Northwestern Ontario where amputation rates are much higher than the rest of the province. Our ultimate goal is to reduce our region’s overall amputation rate by making vascular care more timely and accessible.”
All three of our Hospital’s vascular surgeons – Dr. Mary MacDonald, Dr. Elrasheed Osman, and Dr. Matthew Ingves – participate in the RAVE clinics, ensuring that patients have timely access to life and limb saving treatment. Depending on severity, patients can be treated through medical therapy, minimally invasive catheter procedures, or surgical reconstruction.
“In our region, we see a large number of patients presenting with prolonged lower limb wounds, which can be a sign of peripheral artery (vascular) disease,” said Dr. Matthew Ingves. “An early diagnosis can make all the difference in whether or not a limb can be salvaged and amputation avoided. The RAVE clinic is an excellent system for assessing patients in an efficient manner, while also increasing awareness about vascular health and its role in preventing amputations. We’re able to make a real difference by facilitating the best possible treatment for our patients and their families.”
If you have concerns about a lower limb wound that won’t heal or questions about your vascular health, please see your health care provider.