February 2012

CDC reports dramatic 12-year drop in diabetic lower limb amputation

In the moment: Footcare

Lower limb amputations due to complications of diabetes declined 67% from 1996 to 2008 in US adults aged 40 years and older, according to a February report in Diabetes Care by epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC investigators estimated nontraumatic lower extremity amputation (NLEA) trends from 1988 to 2008 using two nationally representative surveys. Overall rates began dropping in 1996 in all age groups and in blacks and whites.

Adults 75 years and older experienced the greatest declines but also had the highest NLEA rate. Blacks had higher NLEA rates than whites (5 per 1000 vs 2 per 1000). Overall, NLEA rates decreased from 11 per 1000 individuals in 1996 to 4 per 1000 in 2008.

The epidemiologists hypothesized that the declines are at least partially attributable to improved diabetes management. NLEA rates were still eight times higher among persons with diabetes than those without, underscoring the need for continued awareness and improved management of the diabetic foot.  –ED


Li Y, Burrows NR, Gregg EW, et al. Declining rates of hospitalization for nontraumatic lower-extremity amputa­tion in the diabetic population aged 40 years or older: U.S., 1988–2008. Dia­betes Care 2012;35(2):273-277.

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