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Primary Closure of Elective Toe Amputations in the Diabetic Foot—Is it Safe?

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  • 1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, E. Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, Israel.
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Background

Toe amputation is the most common partial foot amputation. Controversy exists regarding whether to primarily close toe amputations or to leave them open for secondary healing. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the results of closed toe amputations in diabetic patients, with respect to wound healing, complications, and the need for further higher level amputation.

Methods

We retrospectively reviewed the results of 40 elective or semi-elective toe amputations with primary closure performed in 35 patients treated in a specialized diabetic foot unit. Patients with abscesses or necrotizing fasciitis were treated emergently and were excluded. Patients in whom clean margins could not be achieved due to extensive cellulitis or tenosynovitis and patients requiring vascular intervention were excluded as well. Outcome endpoints included wound healing at 3 weeks, delayed wound healing, or subsequent higher level amputation.

Results

Out of 40 amputations, 38 healed well. Thirty amputations healed by the time of stitch removal at 3 weeks and eight had delayed healing. In two patients the wounds did not heal and subsequent higher level amputation was eventually required.

Conclusions

In carefully selected diabetic foot patients, primary closure of toe amputations is a safe surgical option. We do not recommend primary closure when infection control is not achieved or in patients requiring vascular reconstruction. Careful patient selection, skillful assessment of debridement margins and meticulous technique are required and may be offered by experienced designated surgeons in a specialized diabetic foot unit.

Corresponding author: Dror Lakstein, MD, E. Wolfson Medical Center, POB 5, Holon, Israel 58100. (E-mail: drorale@gmail.com)