Health Beat: Amniotic fluid saves feet

Health Beat: Amniotic fluid saves feet

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Nerve disease caused by type-2 diabetes accounts for half of all amputations in the U.S., but a new treatment is helping patients keep their limbs, and it comes from a pregnant woman.

Diabetic sores on Rocco LoBosco's left foot robbed him of his little toe and doctors told him could lead to worse.

"There's still a chance that you might lose part of the foot, or the whole foot, or even the leg," LoBosco said.

But by harnessing the power of amniotic fluid, Dr. Richard Jacoby, medical director at the Scottsdale Neuropathy Institute in Scottsdale, Ariz., said it's possible to avoid that.

"Amniotic fluid seems to meet the criteria to develop new tissue," Jacoby explained.

Amniotic fluid from a pregnant donor is injected into or wrapped around the nerve during decompression surgery. The stem cells in the fluid stimulate the affected area, telling it to heal the wound.

"I've done 16 nerves with this technique and all of them have restored their sensation," Jacoby said.

The new technique not only helps save limbs, but lives as well.

"Your life expectancy is two years after an amputation," Jacoby explained.

LoBosco had the surgery, and a month later, there is a noticeable difference.

"I had no feeling whatsoever in either of my feet," LoBosco said. "Now, I feel [my feet]…I couldn't do this before."

There are about 100,000 amputations each year in the U.S. Jacoby said he also just used the treatment to help a woman with multiple sclerosis get out a wheelchair and start walking with a cane. The amniotic fluid comes from donors from an FDA-approved laboratory.

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