A different kind of replacement | Lifestyle


While only in his early thirties, Michael Raley began having issues with his left leg. Cramping pains radiated from his hip down to his calf, at times completely immobilizing him. “Occasionally it simply refused to move,” he says. “It got to the point where I was dragging my leg behind me and was in constant pain. I couldn’t walk any kind of distance and had to give up all the activities I love. This went on for years. I kept going back to my doctor, but he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.”

Eventually, Michael’s doctor referred him to a back specialist who treated him with injections. When that didn’t work, they sent him to a pain management specialist who also tried injections. When that still didn’t help, he was finally referred to a cardiovascular specialist who diagnosed the problem: peripheral artery disease. The large vessel that feeds blood to Michael’s legs was severely blocked. His legs simply weren’t getting enough blood. Michael was now in his early 40’s.

“The doctor wanted to use stents to open up the vessel, but kept putting the surgery off,” says Michael. “I had been dealing with this for over a decade and was frustrated with the delays, so I decided to see Dr. Univers at St. Mary’s Heart & Vascular Institute. That decision changed my life.”

Dr. Univers says that Michael’s story was typical except for his age. “He was really young to have these kinds of symptoms, so we wanted to make sure we weren’t missing anything. We ran a full gamut of tests, but most important was the CT scan that showed that the vessel in his belly that feeds his legs was almost completely blocked. It was a classic case of aortoiliac occlusive disease, but unusual in a man of his years.”

According to Dr. Univers there are two ways of fixing it: opening up the artery with a stent or replacing the entire vessel. “Because of Michael’s relative youth, the more durable option for him was to replace the whole pipe.”

“I won’t lie, I was anxious about the surgery,” says Michael. “But Dr. Univers made me feel very comfortable and confident in what he was going to do. I trusted him to do what was best for me.”

“What we were able to do for Michael requires a complete team,” says Dr. Univers. The Heart & Vascular Institute here at St. Mary’s has world-class cardiologists, cardiac and thoracic surgeons, vascular surgeons and the best PAs and nurses anywhere. Combined with the state-of-the-art technology SCL Health has invested in, we can offer what no one else in the region can: complete interpretation and overhaul of the entire cardiovascular system.”  

“After the surgery, before I even had the staples out, I was home and able to walk around my whole property without pain,” says Michael. “It almost brought me to tears because I hadn’t been able to do that for years. I can walk without pain and do the things I love now, all thanks to Dr. Univers. He’s my hero.”

“I love what I do,” Dr. Univers says. “It’s an absolute joy seeing Michael where he is now and knowing that the team here at St. Mary’s made such a difference in his life. It’s why we do what we do.”



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