28 Nov 2021

Amputations on the rise in Kilkenny

Lower limb amputations of people with diabetes in Kilkenny increased to 14 last year...

Amputations on the rise in Kilkenny

Diabetes Ireland

Lower limb amputations of people with diabetes in Kilkenny increased to 14 last year – a rise of 75% on 2015 when there were eight. 

Diabetes Ireland is warning people with the disease to check their feet daily to detect problems early as diabetes related amputations continued to rise last year to a three year high.

The latest data shows that nationwide 2,820 of people were hospitalised in 2016 as a result of diabetes related footcare complications, with 511 of those requiring lower limb amputation surgery.

Some 63% of all lower limb amputations were diabetes related with 2,820 people with diabetes hospitalised for foot ulcer treatment or limb loss in 2016.

People with diabetes have special reason to take good care of their feet. Long term high blood glucose levels may make feet susceptible to injury and infection.

This is because the protective sensation in the toes or feet, the “pain alarm system” may slowly disappear with long term high blood glucose levels.

Several other counties also saw increases, including: Carlow and Waterford.

Meanwhile, cases of foot ulcers with no amputation with diabetes went from 26 in Kilkenny 2015 to 35 last year – an increase of nine.

Lower limb amputation is one of the preventable potential complications of long term poorly controlled diabetes.

However, due to “continued under-resourcing of podiatry services”, there is inadequate specialised early screening and thus the lack of early intervention in patients who require it.

Dr Ronan Canavan, Consultant Endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, said: “The HSE provided no extra podiatry posts in 2017 yet we are seeing year on year increases in the number of people requiring in hospital treatment for diabetes related foot complications and lower limb loss at huge cost to the exchequer.

“I want to encourage people with diabetes to take care of their feet with daily examination and be on the lookout for small cuts, changes in skin colour and temperature, red areas and swelling.

“They also have to check they have continuing sensation in their feet and be alert to signs such as prickly pain in the feet, numbness and peculiar sensations such as a feeling of walking on cotton or of wearing tight socks.

“This is important as without a pain alarm system, injuries and poor fitting shoes may go unnoticed. Where people do find problems with their feet they should immediately seek medical advice.”

The estimated in-patient hospital cost to treating 2,820 people with diabetes related foot complications in 2016 is around €84 million.

Between them, these patients spent a total of 32,490 days in hospital for treatment.

Social Democrat TD, Roisin Shortall, said: “I simply cannot understand why the Government would decide not to provide funding for more podiatry posts nationwide and I would urge them to make funding available for at least a further 20 posts in the upcoming budget”.

People with diabetes should have their feet examined at least annually by a healthcare professional who can examine their feet for sensation and abrasions.

The most common cause of hospitalisation among patients with diabetes is diabetic foot disease (ulcer, infection, deformity, advances neuropathy and amputation). These are the most costly complication of diabetes.

The risk of amputation in a patient with diabetes is 20 to 40 times higher than a non-diabetic patient.

Diabetes Ireland says around 120 podiatrists are need across the country providing local screening and early intervention to the diabetes community and we currently have approximately 35.

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