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June 25, 2012

Annals of Vascular Surgery
Volume 26, Issue 5 , Pages 700-706, July 2012

A Diabetic Foot Service Established by a Department of Vascular Surgery: An Observational Study

published online 13 April 2012


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The mechanism by which the multidisciplinary approach to diabetic foot disease reduces amputation rates is unclear. Ischemia, sepsis, and necrosis represent aspects of severe diabetic foot disease amenable to intervention. In 2006, a vascular unit introduced a rapid access service for severe foot disease, augmenting the established community provision. This study aimed to determine whether concurrent changes in amputation rates were observed, and to identify areas that may have influenced outcomes.


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Unit data prospectively collected during 4 years for patients with lower-limb disease were compared with data retrieved over 2 years before the foot service. Outcome measurements were major amputations, foot surgery, vascular interventions, admissions, and length of stay.


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Major amputation rates associated with diabetes peaked in 2005 at 24.7/10,000 vs. 1.07/10,000 in 2009; (relative risk = 0.043, 95% confidence interval = 0.006–0.322). The proportion of diabetic to nondiabetic amputations decreased; foot surgery rates also dropped (53.7/10,000 in 2006 vs. 7.5/10,000 in 2009). The number of open revascularization procedures decreased, but the rates of endovascular procedures remained generally constant. Hospital admission rates decreased after initially peaking, and the length of stay was unchanged (16 vs. 15.5 days in 2004 and 2009, respectively).


The integration of a vascular unit with community care has been associated with improved outcomes for patients with diabetic foot disease. Improvements were not related to the increased number of vascular procedures or hospitalizations, but did coincide with a greater proportion of patients attending the foot unit. The referral of patients to the unit facilitates the rapid management of severe disease, reducing delays deleterious to outcomes.