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Foot Screenings...How important are they?

Posted Jun 03 2009 12:00am
There are no screening protocols in hemodialysis centers to identify the problem earlier on. As a result preventive strategies to reduce morbidity and mortality related to this issue remains unaddressed. The magnitude of this problem is unrealized until you add to the equation that majority of hemodilaysis patients are diabetics as well. As a result there remains a significant issue of lower extremity amputations in hemodialysis patients. Overall 40% of patients in United States starting chronic dialysis count diabetes mellitus as the primary cause of renal failure, making it the number one cause of CKD (Berman et al, 2001). Patients with diabetes and chronic renal disease frequently present with a combination of the devastations of diabetes including: nephropathy, retinopathy, and vasculopathy. The main focus of the care of these patients has been on the target organs like heart and kidneys. Therefore, early risk factors for diabetic foot complications may be disregarded, and this may lead to amputation--a failure for both the patient and physician. Diabetic foot complications, including amputation, add significantly to the morbidity and mortality of the patient with diabetes and CKD. However, of all the long-term complications of diabetes, foot complications may be the most preventable. In the United States, diabetes is the cause of 50% of nontraumatic lower extremity amputations and is increasing annually (Levin, 2002). The prevalence of lower extremity amputation for patients with diabetes and CKD is much greater than those without CKD. The rate of lower limb amputation for the population at large increased during a recent 4-year period from 4.8 to 6.2 /100 persons. During the same time frame, this rate of lower extremity amputation rose from 11.8 to 13.8/100 among persons with CKD attributed to diabetic nephropathy. The rate for patients with diabetes and CKD was 10 times greater than the diabetic population at large (Eggers, Gohdes, & Pugh et al, 1999). The cost of treating patients with diabetes is astronomical both financially and in terms of quality of life. The loss of a lower extremity or even part of a lower extremity greatly impacts quality of life.

by Zahid Ahmad, M.D.
University of Oklahoma
Asst. Professor of Medicine – Interventional Nephrology
Section of Nephrology & Hypertention
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