Patient Success Stories

Back in Balance

The Vascular Center’s expert care gets Pikesville man walking with confidence again.

Allen Steiner is a family man. With seven grandchildren ranging in age from 3 to 14, he and his wife, Eva, keep their sights focused on their family and put God first. A practicing Orthodox Jew, Steiner has lived in Pikesville for the past 21 years. He takes great pride in his job as an accountant for the Maryland state government, and sees no need to retire any time soon, despite his 68 years of age.

Steiner has more than one health challenge to contend with—including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease—but he is also his own patient advocate, and diligently keeps up with his doctors’ appointments.

In early 2012, Steiner developed a progressive, constant pain in his left heel. “It was very hard. I would walk with a cane because I felt so uneasy,” Steiner says. “I don’t drive, so it is important that I can walk to live out my daily routine.”

The Diagnosis

Steiner went to his podiatrist and a vascular surgeon, who diagnosed him with a vascular disease known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition of the blood vessels that leads to narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the legs and feet.

Both specialists indicated that Steiner’s PAD was mild, and not the cause of his debilitating pain. They recommended that he wait it out, with no treatment. When the pain did not improve, Steiner requested a third opinion, and was referred to Michael P. Lilly, MD, professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the UMMC Midtown Campus Vascular Center and medical director of the Non-Invasive Vascular Lab.

“After meeting Dr. Lilly and his team, I knew I made the right choice,” Steiner says. “I felt he was the doctor who was going to get me back on my feet.”

The Expert Team and Treatment

The Maryland Vascular Center, in partnership with University of Maryland Medical Center, provides comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of vascular disorders using a multidisciplinary approach. The Center brings together at one location board-certified vascular specialists and nurse practitioners in a fully accredited vascular lab, equipped with a noninvasive vascular lab, to provide
thorough assessment and treatment of any vascular condition. The Center is a major training site for vascular residents and ultrasound technologists.

“We used a combination of tests in our lab to learn that Mr. Steiner indeed had severe disease that involved the arteries at the ankle and in the foot itself,” Dr. Lilly says. “This is an unusual pattern for this disease, but we were able to create a treatment plan to allow blood to flow back into his foot.”

After further evaluation, Dr. Lilly concluded that blood was not flowing well through the calf to give Steiner’s ankle and foot appropriate blood and oxygen. Without surgery, he could develop gangrene—decay of an organ or tissue caused by a lack of blood supply—and lose his limb.

In March 2012, Steiner underwent vascular surgery into the small arteries in his ankle, and his ankle pain went away. But, not long after he went home, he found himself in pain again. “I was getting better, and then I started experiencing pain, not just in my heel but throughout my foot,” Steiner says.

“After performing ultrasound tests, we found a narrowing of an artery just past our last surgery site, closer to the foot,” Dr. Lilly says. “We were able to find a very small, but healthy, artery midway in his foot and felt confident that surgery would relieve his foot pain and prevent limb loss.”

The second surgery was performed in April 2012 and proved to be successful; the pain and swelling in Steiner’s foot resolved for good.

The Recovery

Today, Steiner is walking without a cane. “Most vascular surgeons don’t have these resources at hand, and many would not even consider performing this difficult surgery,” says Lai S. Wong, a certified registered nurse practitioner for the Maryland Vascular Center.

“The secret to our success is to treat each patient as a unique individual and bring all of our knowledge, techniques and expertise to identify the best solution for each patient,” Dr. Lilly says. “Yes, we have full accreditation in every area and meet or exceed every quality standard, but our real treasure is our team.”

While Steiner may still walk with a bit of a limp from arthritis, he is now back on his feet. He continues to walk to work every day, and had a wonderful Passover celebration with his family. “I am now able to go out and enjoy time with my wife. I don’t have to be afraid to walk—I now walk with security,” Steiner says. “It is a comforting thing to be able to play with my grandchildren without being so restricted.”