Hospital consultant uses social media to connect with patients given an initial diagnosis of amputation

A consultant at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust is using Facebook to connect with patients seeking a second opinion after being given an initial diagnosis of amputation.

Lorenzo Patrone, an interventional radiologist at the West London Vascular and Interventional Centre was initially invited to join a group whose members are affected by Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), a condition restricting blood flow to the lower legs.

One of the group’s members responded to a picture posted of Lorenzo and a colleague at a vascular conference in America bemoaning the fact that UK didn’t have the same level of expertise and patients are desperate because of this.

A response from renowned American interventional cardiologist Jay Mustapha who posted the image suggested Lorenzo was an ideal choice for such complex procedures and based in London.

Lorenzo said: “I subsequently got a group invite and quickly found myself fielding a large number of enquiries from patients across the UK wanting further advice and a second opinion.”

“It’s been a real eye opener in terms of the power of social media in bringing  people together and I’m not aware of any medical colleagues in my specialism using it in this way. It’s a fantastic way of giving patients more choice.”

“The centre is the first in the UK which brings vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists together meaning we can offer our patients a comprehensive range of procedures under one roof.”

The first person to benefit from the arrangement was 56 year-old William Smith from Aberdeen, Scotland. Mr Smith had already had one leg amputated below-the-knee three years ago and had been told twice that the other limb would also need to be removed.

Mr Smith said: “I was pretty desperate and reached out through the PAD support group and started talking with Lorenzo. He suggested I come down to London for a consultation.”

“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I wasn’t able to sleep or live a normal life because of the pain. I think a lot of people wouldn’t even consider asking for a second opinion but it’s your right as a patient.”

“I can’t thank him enough and it shows the value of joining Facebook groups where you can talk with people in a similar position and, hopefully, find someone like Lorenzo and his team who can offer an alternative.”

The minimally invasive procedure involved guiding wires into the arteries via an entry point in the groin and widening three constricted vessels with the use of balloons and a small stent allowing blood to flow back into the foot.

Lorenzo added: “Mr Smith hadn’t been able to feel his foot for a long time and once the arteries had been reopened he could actually feel it warming while still on the operating table. “

“The fact that we don’t resort to open surgery also meant he was on his way home within a day.”