The number and severity of lower limb amputations has decreased significantly over the past decade, according to a study recently published in Foot & Ankle International.
Researchers from the University of Iowa Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation examined lower extremity amputation rates and diabetic foot ulcer treatments from Medicare Part B claims filed from 2000 to 2010. They found the rate of lower extremity amputations decreased 28.8% during the 10-year period. They also found the number of claims for orthopedic treatments for diabetic foot ulcers increased 143.3% during the same period.
“The shift in amputation level observed in the Medicare population is also striking,” Phinit Phisitkul, MD, senior author of the study, stated in a news release. “Amputations at the upper and lower leg level are down 47%, while amputations at the partial toe level increased by 24%. What this means for patients is increased mobility, independence and survival rates.”
The researchers stated that additional studies are needed to determine the exact causes of the decrease in lower extremity amputations. However, they said better preventive care and insulin control and orthopedic treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, such as Achilles tendon release and total contact casting, are most likely the biggest contributors to the decline.
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