Persons with diabetes who develop an infection are at a 55-fold greater risk for hospitalization, and an alarming 154-fold greater risk for amputation.
These are some of the startling figures emanating from the first population-based study on diabetic foot infection. Researchers from Texas A&M University, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, and the University of Washington collected data on nearly 1,700 patients over a two-year period.
"The results strongly suggested that foot infections are common and complex. They are also costly in terms of morbidity," noted Dr. Lawrence A. Lavery of Texas A&M, the lead author on the study.
The study also found that nearly 9 in 10 amputations performed are instigated by an infection. "This was perhaps the most interesting figure in the study," noted David G. Armstrong, DPM, PhD, Professor of Surgery and Director of Scholl's Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research at Rosalind Franklin University and one of the study's principal investigators.
"It is infection that is the spark that led to nearly all amputations in this study," said Armstrong. "Poor circulation, while critically important, did not necessarily cause amputation. It determined the level of amputation. This subtlety makes a significant difference when designing strategies for prevention."
The study is published in the June issue of the journal Diabetes Care.