Ingalls: Treating Hard-to-Heal Wounds Inside and Out

Try to remember the last time you got a paper cut and the quick sharp sting as the paper sliced through your tender skin. Thinking about it now may even make you cringe. But eventually, the cut healed, and the pain was forgotten.

Now try to imagine the pain and discomfort for millions of Americans who live with chronic, non-healing wounds that are far bigger, more serious and more painful than a simple nick of the skin.

More than five million Americans are suffering from a non-healing wound, defined as a wound that has resisted healing after months, and sometimes years, of traditional treatment.

“Without effective treatment, chronic wound sufferers may become disabled, unable to work and dependent on care from their loved ones,” explains Bohdan Iwanetz, M.D., surgeon and Medical Director of the Ingalls Wound Center. Sadly, nearly 90,000 amputations in the U.S. each year are the result of non-healing foot ulcers that plague one out of every seven people with diabetes.

The good news: World-class wound care is a lot closer than you think.

Ingalls Treats the Most Difficult Wounds

Ingalls Hyperbaric & Wound/Ostomy Center is a proven program with more than 20 years of quality outcomes. The center has performed nearly 20,000 hyperbaric procedures, with a >90% success rate for healing wounds – including chronic and hard-to-heal wounds.

What’s more, the Ingalls Wound Center is a major referral center for other wound clinics in the Chicagoland area.

“Ingalls is the only wound treatment program in the area that has a total of three hyperbaric chambers, capable of treating up to 15 patients a day,” Dr. Iwanetz says. “That also makes Ingalls the most experienced center in the area.”

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment that enhances the body’s natural healing process through inhalation of 100% oxygen in a total body chamber, where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. It’s used for a wide variety of treatments and is particularly beneficial for wounds that won’t heal as a result of diabetes or radiation injury from cancer treatment.

HBOT is also used to treat individuals with burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, crush injuries, pressure sores, skin flaps and grafts, gas gangrene, necrotizing soft tissue infections, and osteomyelitis.

“During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a patient breathes pure oxygen while cradled in a special pressurized chamber,” adds Michael Romberg, M.D., board-certified general surgeon and wound care physician. “This allows greater amounts of oxygen to be dissolved into the bloodstream and carried to body tissues that need healing.”

The Ingalls wound care team, composed of board-certified physicians, nurses and technicians, has advanced training in wound care. Together, they work with a patient’s personal physician to assess, treat and manage hard-to-heal wounds. Treatments and services include individualized wound assessment and recommendations; compression therapy; advanced wound care products; care for draining wounds; prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers; onsite podiatry, physical therapy and orthotics; ostomy care; HBOT; and prosthetics.

For more information about wound care and hyperbaric services at Ingalls, call 708.915.5585.

George's Story

Most people think of a wound as something that occurs on the outside of the body. But sometimes wounds and scar tissue develop on the inside too.

Wound care for prostate cancer patient

When 78-year-old George Williams of Hammond, Ind., received care for prostate cancer several years ago, the treatment, while successful, didn’t leave him completely unscathed. The internal radiation seeds produced scarring that eventually led to urination problems. His urologist performed two separate procedures to remove the scarring and dead tissue, but George’s problems persisted.

Eventually, he saw a specialist at the University of Chicago Medicine who recommended an ileal conduit procedure that would remove his damaged bladder and reroute urine flow using a portion of the small intestine and placing it at an opening made on the surface of the abdomen.

But before he could undergo surgery, his surgeon recommended hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Ingalls to heal his internal wounds first.

Under Dr. Michael Romberg’s expert supervision, George underwent 30 hour-long hyperbaric sessions at Ingalls. Satisfied with George’s healing, his surgeon performed the urinary procedure and recommended more hyperbaric therapy following surgery to further aid in healing. Today, George is fully recovered and feeling better than ever.

“I’m thrilled with the results and grateful to Dr. Romberg and Ingalls for offering the care I needed, when I needed it, close to my home,” he says.

Lois' Story

Most of the time, bug bites are harmless. After a few days of itching and irritation, they generally go away on their own. But that’s not always the case, especially with certain types of spiders like the black widow and brown recluse.

Treatment for spider bite patient

Last summer, 83-year-old Lois Lucious of Harvey woke up with a red, “lemon-sized” blister on her left leg. She immediately went to the Ingalls Emergency Department, where doctors determined the most likely culprit was a black widow spider. Worse, the bite was infected and needed urgent treatment.

Bohdan Iwanetz, M.D., surgeon and Medical Director of the Ingalls Wound Center, evaluated her and scheduled her for surgery the very next day to remove the damaged tissue and perform a skin graft.

After a weeklong hospital stay, Lois began outpatient wound care treatments. Three times a week for four months, she received specialized treatments and bandaging from Ingalls wound care experts under Dr. Iwanetz’s direction. She was released from care in December.

Today, the energetic octogenarian is back to what she loves best: volunteering in the Ingalls Nook Gift Shop three days a week. She also had her home sprayed for spiders several times!

“Dr. Iwanetz is the best,” Lois says. “He’s very professional and really cares about his patients. The nurses were excellent too!”

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