By Richard Rosser
A day out on the boat fishing in January 2021 ended with Lisa Cagle losing the tip of her middle finger. She is back to helping with the boat lines and credits Broward Health North with restoring full use of her finger through surgery and specialized hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
“We were coming back to the dock, my friend had the front of the boat lines and my husband had the back of the boat lines,” said Cagle, a Lighthouse Point resident. “I had the spring line, and I thought it was my turn to put the line in. As soon as I put my finger through the cleat and placed my finger into the line, the engines sprung into gear,” she said. “It’s a massive 45-foot boat, and the surge literally just tore my fingertip and fingernail off.”
Cagle, 58, was rushed to the Emergency Department at Broward Health North, where Jacob S. Landes, D.O., a hand and orthopedic surgeon at Broward Health, surgically reattached her severed middle fingertip. Immediately after, Cagle developed necrosis, which is what happens when an organ or tissue cells die because of lack of blood flow from being detached from the body. After seeing that the tip is necrosing, Dr. Landes recommended hyperbaric oxygen treatment to help preserve her injured finger.
“I am a scuba diver so, of course, my first thought about the hyperbaric treatment was, ‘Isn’t this what they use for the bends?’” Cagle said.
Firaz R. Hosein, D.O., the internist who treated Cagle, is impressed by the impact hyperbaric medicine can have on patients. “I’ve had young patients who had a foot crushed in an accident,” Dr. Hosein said. “With hyperbaric treatment, the wound care team has been able to save the injured foot and prevent it from being amputated. That’s an incredibly powerful impact on their life moving forward.”
Cagle said she saw dramatic results after a few sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
“Hyperbaric medicine helps with the healing process, creating new blood vessels and helps prevent certain infections,” said Vanessa Tiempetch, RN, BSN, CWS, a nurse at Broward Health North’s Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center. “It’s a modality that not a lot of people are familiar with.”
Inside the pressurized chamber, the patient breathes 100% oxygen while a staff member stays nearby to monitor the patient. This is nearly five times as much oxygen that we inhale naturally. The increased air pressure helps the lungs collect more oxygen, which is directed to the damaged tissues. The treatment can be used for certain injuries, such as infections, restoring skin grafts and muscle flaps, radiation injuries, crush injuries and preserving limbs caused by diminished blood supply.
For Cagle, she had daily treatments for two weeks inside a 41-inch hyperbaric chamber. “I was slightly apprehensive on my first day,” she said. “The chamber is comfortable, and the majority of it is clear glass, so you don’t feel claustrophobic.”
“The staff sat right next to me, constantly checking on me and even gave me a comfy blanket, she said. “I just relaxed and watched television the entire time.”
An added benefit for Cagle was that she felt rested after just a few days of treatment. “I also noticed that after a few days, I did feel very refreshed because I was getting such pure oxygen. I slept better, too,” she said. “After my first visit, I almost looked forward to the down time.”
Cagle is convinced she would have lost most of her fingertip to necrosis had she not had hyperbaric oxygen therapy. “I am extremely happy and would highly recommend the treatment when applicable,” she said.
“I am 100 percent back boating and even handling the lines,” Cagle said.
For more information, visit BrowardHealth.org/Hyperbaric or call 954-759-7500.
Broward Health, providing service for more than 80 years, is a nationally recognized system in South Florida that offers world-class healthcare to all. The Broward Health system includes the statutory teaching hospital Broward Health Medical Center, Broward Health North, Broward Health Imperial Point, Broward Health Coral Springs, Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital, Broward Health Weston, Broward Health Community Health Services, Broward Health Physician Group, Broward Health Urgent Care, Broward Health International, and Broward Health Foundation. For more information, visit BrowardHealth.org
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