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Do foot examinations reduce the risk of diabetic amputation?

Mayfield JA, Reiber GE, Nelson RG, Greene T. Do foot examinations reduce the risk of diabetic amputation? Family Practice. 2000 Jun 1; 49(6):499-504.

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BACKGROUND: Foot examinations are widely recommended as a means to reduce amputation risk, but no investigators have studied their independent effect on this outcome. METHODS: We conducted a population-based case-control study of primary care provided to Pima Indians from the Gila River Indian Community. Sixty-one Pima Indians with type 2 diabetes and a first lower-extremity amputation between January 1, 1985, and December 31, 1992, were compared with 183 people who had no amputation by December 31, 1992. The type of foot examination conducted, comorbid conditions, and foot risk factors present in the 36 months before the pivotal event were abstracted from medical records. All ulcer care was excluded. The independent effect of foot examinations on the risk of amputation was assessed by logistic regression. RESULTS: During the 36 study months, 1857 foot examinations were performed on 244 subjects. The median number of preventive foot examinations was 7 for case patients and 3 for control patients. After controlling for differences in comorbid conditions and foot risk conditions, the risk of amputation for persons with 1 or more foot examinations was an odds ratio (OR) of 0.55 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.2-1.7; P = .31). The risk of amputation associated with written comments of nonadherence with therapeutic foot care recommendations or diabetic medication was an OR of 1.9 (95% CI, 0.9-4.3; P = .10). CONCLUSIONS: Our study failed to demonstrate that foot examinations decrease the risk of amputation in Pima Indians with type 2 diabetes. However, foot examinations detect high-risk conditions for which specific interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing amputation risk.

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