Bypassing the cause of serious leg pain


SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – There’s nothing quite like a painful leg cramp to stop you right in your tracks. While some of us may occasinally get what’s commonly called a “charley horse”, others suffer from a chronic problem that’s much more serious.

That problem is something Eyewitness News reported on a couple of months ago called peripheral arterial disease or PAD for short. There are several ways to treat it but the way a 77-year-old Lackawanna County man chose has provided him long lasting relief.

What Jim Burzon of Moscow didn’t realize in 2011 was that a lack of good blood flow to his right calf was to blame for making walking an exercise in pain. “It got to the point where you would feel the pain and if you continued, the pain would get worse,” he said.

When he couldn’t bear it any longer, Mr. Burzon sought out Geisinger Vascular Surgeon Edward Batzel, MD for help. “Most patients have a blockage in their femoral artery which is the main artery in the leg just above the knee. And so their claudication, their pain, occurs in the calf.”

Dr. Batzel recommended what was considered the gold standard for the time: bypass surgery. While not Mr. Burzon’s angiogram, Dr. Batzel presented imagery which showed the impact vascular disease has on the femoral artery, impeding blood flow to the leg which, if left untreated, could progress to loss of limb. Dr. Batzel said, “And you can see this patient had a bypass graft. That’s the graft bringing flow around that blockage here.”

It didn’t take Mr. Burzon long to notice the results. “So it’s an immediate fix, you know. It’s like going to the dentist. When they pull the tooth it’s gone. You know, you don’t have the pain any more.”

Nowadays the first line of treatment for PAD is endovascular procedures like balloon angioplasty and stents which result in less downtime, but Dr. Batzel said, “The bypass has longer lasting results.” Rewards that Mr. Burzon is reaping some eight years later. “I have no restrictions and no pain. I can do whatever I want.”

Dr. Batzel will kick-off Geisinger’s vascular lecture series with a leg-pain talk called “Leg Pain – Could It Be Vascular”. It’s happening Wednesday, May 8 from noon to 1:00 p.m. at Geisinger CMC’s Professional Office Building on Colfax Avenue in Scranton.

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