Diabetic Limb Salvage

Northwest Foot and Ankle Institute

Podiatrist Foot & Ankle Reconstruction Surgery located in Barkley Village, Bellingham, WA

Diabetes-related amputations are on the rise, but you don’t have to lose a limb to diabetes if you get expert care. Diabetic limb salvage focuses on wound healing and amputation prevention in people with diabetes. At Northwest Foot and Ankle Institute, board-certified podiatrists Michael Czurylo, DPM, and Hyowon Choi, DPM, can help you significantly reduce your amputation risk while maximizing your foot health and mobility. Call the Bellingham, Washington, office to schedule a consultation or request an appointment online now.

Diabetic Limb Salvage Q & A

What is diabetic limb salvage?

Diabetic limb salvage is podiatric care that focuses on wound healing, avoiding wound ulceration, preventing infection, and avoiding amputation in diabetes patients. About 15% of people with diabetes will develop foot ulcers and of those who develop foot ulcers, about 6% will be hospitalized due to infections or other ulcer related complications. 

For people with diabetes, preventing limb loss is critical, not only for mobility but also for survival. Nearly 70% of diabetic amputees die within five years of limb loss, and this mortality rate is similar to those who have pancreatic cancer. You can stay mobile and healthy by being proactive about your foot health. 

Why does diabetes cause foot damage?

Diabetes causes several serious problems in your feet, ankles, and legs. 

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage in your feet, which is very common among people with diabetes. It limits sensation in your feet to make it hard to recognize injuries. 

Because they feel no sensation, many people with diabetes have foot wounds that they never treat. You could develop a small cut on the bottom of your foot and then not realize it's there, even as the tissue starts to break down and create an ulcer.

An ulcerated wound can work inwards to expose your soft tissues and bones, causing a serious, spreading infection and tissue death if left untreated.

Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease happens when plaque lines the blood vessels delivering blood to your legs and feet. This plaque narrows the blood vessels and diminishes the amount of blood flow. 

Without adequate blood flow, you don't get the needed oxygen and nutrients to help you heal when injured. 

These issues significantly increase your risk of severe foot problems. Diabetic foot care and limb salvage at Northwest Foot and Ankle Institute help you take aggressive action to prevent limb loss. 

What does diabetic limb salvage involve?

Diabetic limb salvage often involves a team approach. Your Northwest Foot and Ankle Institute podiatrist can work with medical doctors such as endocrinologists, cardiologists, and vascular surgeons to form a comprehensive diabetic limb salvage plan. 

Limb salvage at Northwest Foot and Ankle Institute emphasizes optimal wound healing, including oral antibiotics, topical treatments, wound dressings, and other treatments that accelerate healing. 

Your podiatrist can also perform a debridement, surgical removal of dead tissue delaying your healing. 

If you’ve lost bone to infection or other damage, your podiatric surgeon can perform bone grafting surgery to rebuild it. With diabetic limb salvage surgery, your podiatrist can make the corrections necessary to save your limb, where you might otherwise need an amputation. 

If you have diabetes, a top-notch podiatrist is a vital part of your long-term wellness. Get in touch with Bellingham’s best podiatry specialists by calling Northwest Foot and Ankle Institute to schedule or request an appointment online today.