Major amputations are still essential in certain life-threatening situations or in cases of overwhelming infection or uncontrollable pain. But most patients would do anything to avoid this independence-robbing surgery. And the evidence shows that most amputations in patients with diabetes or other circulatory problems can indeed be prevented. These missed opportunities for prevention haunt today's grim statistics:
- Every year, over 70,000 people with diabetes have a lower extremity amputation.
- Every other hour in Pennsylvania, someone with diabetes loses a foot or leg.
- Amputation rates are two to four times greater in blacks than whites
As diabetes prevalence grows, and as those with diabetes live longer, the tragedy of avoidable amputations will continue unless action is taken.
Patients can lower their amputation risk by taking preventive steps. Prevention occurs at several levels depending on the patient's individual risks: