Diabetes and lower extremity amputation – rehabilitation pathways and outcomes at a regional hospital
Background: Lower extremity amputations (LEAs) are most frequently due to diabetes mellitus (DM), a disease on the rise. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and aetiology of LEAs at Addington Hospital from 2013 to 2017 and to explore the physiotherapy referral practices and outcomes.
Methods: Retrospective study carried out at Addington Hospital, Durban. Patients who underwent LEAs were filtered from theatre registers and the hospital Meditech database. Data collected included patients' demographic profile, diabetic status, level of amputation, limb orientation, physiotherapy referral status, and rehabilitation outcomes. Physiotherapy files were scanned for the attendance of referred patients. Study endpoints were prevalence, diabetes status, referral status, compliance and rehabilitation outcomes.
Results: From 2013 to 2017, 1 028 LEAs in 843 patients were identified with single amputations (697) and multiple amputations (146). The median age was 61 (IQR 52–68) years, and the M:F ratio was 1.3:1. A total of 574 (68.1%) patients had DM. Seven hundred and thirty-eight (71.8%) amputations were as a result of DM. The level of amputations was below-knee (479; 46.6%), toectomy (236; 23%), above-knee (196; 19%) and trans-metatarsal (117; 11.4%). Only 148 patients (17.6%) were referred for physiotherapy, of which 91 (61.5%) attended. Mobility in those who attended rehabilitation was with a walking frame (51; 56%), crutches (29; 31.9%), prosthesis and crutches (7; 7.7%), and wheelchair-bound (4; 4.4%).
Conclusion: Over half the amputations were associated with DM, which was also a risk factor for multiple amputations. Although referral and attendance for physiotherapy were very poor, mobility in those who attended was excellent, indicating a dire need to improve hospital referral pathways.
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