Diabetes mellitus. Prevention of amputation

LJ Sanders Podiatry Section, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Lebanon, PA 17042.

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Fifteen percent of individuals with diabetes will likely develop foot ulcers in their lifetime, and approximately 15% to 20% of these ulcers are estimated to result in lower extremity amputation. Techniques to prevent lower extremity amputation range from the simple but often neglected foot inspection to complicated vascular and reconstructive foot surgery. Appropriate management can prevent and heal diabetic foot ulcers, thereby greatly decreasing the amputation rate and medical care costs. Prevention is the key to treatment. The author discusses general guidelines for foot screening and identifies three specific goals for prevention of amputation: 1) identification of at risk individuals needing prevention and the specific factors placing them at risk; 2) protection of the foot against the adverse effects of external forces (pressure, friction, and shear); and 3) reduction of the incidence of diabetic foot ulcers through educational programs.