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Diabetes

Ways to Avoid Amputation Due to Diabetes?

07/14/2011

Question:

My mother-in-law is only 73 but has been told by a vascular surgeon that because her health is so compromised by diabetes, no surgery can be performed safely to correct the apparent complete lack of circulation in her feet. She has been told that she has "no pulses" in her feet and that as a result, she can expect to lose both her legs to amputation within a year and a-half from now (July 2011).

Is there anything she can do to forestall this, short of surgery? She was told exercising in a pool could help, but because she`s obese, she is resisting this.

She claims she will never allow doctors to amputate her legs; she says she will find a way to die first.

Thanks in advance for any advice you may have.

Answer:

Exercise and medications are the only other ways to improve circulation in the feet and legs if surgery is not an option. Additionally it is recommend that daily foot inspections be performed in order to prevent any wounds or ulcers that could result in an increased risk of amputation as well as keeping diabetes under control. Foot care by a foot care specialist is also important to reduce the risk of injury from simple nail trimming. The key here is to prevent injury in order to preserve her limbs while doing whatever you can to improve circulation.

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Response by:

Jeffrey M Robbins, DPM Jeffrey M Robbins, DPM
Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University