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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can diabetes lead to amputation?

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  • Anthony Short

    Podiatrist (General)

    Anthony Short BAppSc(Pod) MPod hold both Bachelor and Master level degrees in podiatry, and works in private practice, hospital and educational positions within Brisbane. His ... View Profile

    The pathway to amputation due to diabetes usually relies on one or more complications to have occurred; such as peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage), joint deformity (Charcot neuroarthropathy), an opportunistic infection (diabetes makes you more prone to infection),or peripheral arterial disease causing a marked reduction in blood flow through to the lower extremity and foot.
    Not everyone with diabetes or these complications will require an amputation, however sometimes a rapidly developing infection can occur in a short space of time, and antibiotics may be ineffective leaving amputation as the only viable option. Other times the arterial circulation may be so poor that restoration of blood flow (eg angioplasty or bypass) may not be possible or too risky.
    Annual podiatry reviews are recommended for all patients with diabetes in order to monitor for these complications, and reduce the risk of undetected problems leading to amputation.

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