Amputations On The Decline

by Mark Benson on January 28, 2012

Amputation rates for diabetics down

Back in the mid-1990’s, individuals suffering from diabetes mellitus were expected to lose a foot or leg but now the risk of amputations have decreased significantly since then. According to a report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had announced that the discharge rates in hospitals for admissions for leg or foot amputations have fallen an average of 8.6 per year between 1996 and 2008 or a total of 65% for the number of years covered.

The average age of those amputees within that finding were forty and above. On the other hand, the rate of amputations among elderly diabetics fell to four for every thousand from a high of eleven amputations for every thousand. The danger though discovered in the study was that diabetics have eight times the greater risk to lose a limb compared to individuals without any disease in the population.

According to study author, Nilka Rios Burrows PhD, “Continued efforts are needed to decrease the prevalence of amputation risk factors and to improve foot care among certain subgroups within the U.S. diabetic population that are at higher risk.” The study was published last Tuesday in journal Diabetes Care.

Diabetes is a metabolic condition that results in high glucose levels in the blood stream. This leads to long-term complications, such as numbness, tingling sensation or pain in the extremities resulting from diabetic neuropathy. When there is also vascular disease in the legs, the convolution of these two conditions often results in foot problems that lead doctors to extreme measures such as amputation.

According to the study authors, the most likely reasons for this decrease in amputations are the earlier detection of diabetes and improvements in the processes to control blood sugar levels. Other improvements include better foot care and overall management of diabetes including dietary restrictions and exercise regimens. Another factor was the reduction of the incidence of cardiovascular disease, because this affects blood circulation to the extremities and with hampered circulation results in greater issues.

Other findings resulting from the study include the following:

  • Men diagnosed with diabetes had a greater incidence of foot and leg amputations at six per thousand compared to women who only had 1.9 per thousand;
  • African Americans had a higher incidence, 4.9 per thousand compared to Caucasians at 2.9 per thousand;
  • Adults that were 75 years or older had the highest rate of amputations among all age groups at 6.2 per thousand;

Burrows further added, “We must continue to increase awareness of the devastating health complications of diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of lower limb amputations in the United States.”


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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