Elective Foot Surgery Dangerous to People with Diabetes

According to a study presented on February 8 at the annual American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society meeting in Anaheim, California, elective foot and ankle surgery for patients with diabetic neuropathy can lead to an increased risk of Charcot foot.

Robert Anderson, MD, senior author of the study, presented the findings of the study, which was performed by orthopedic surgeons at the Miller Orthopedic Clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina. Twenty-five patients with diabetes who developed Charcot foot following elective surgery were examined. Twenty-one of the 25 people had documented, pre-existing nerve damage in their feet, but none had evidence of Charcot deformity. The average time to diagnose Charcot foot was 11 weeks after the surgery.

Charcot foot is a condition that occurs most commonly in people with damaged nerves in the feet. The feet then become damaged, and bones become disorganized during the healing process. Charcot foot affects about one out of every 750 people with diabetes.

Anderson says that physicians need to have a greater degree of awareness of the complications of Charcot foot deformity in people with diabetes, especially when they have elective surgery.

“We’re finding that surgery is no different from any other insult to the diabetic foot,” says Anderson. “It can be done with caution and with a clear explanation to the patient that Charcot disease may develop.”

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