Doctor examining patients wound on lower leg and foot. This photo is used in our diabetic limb salvage post to promote healing of wounds.

Diabetic Limb Salvage

Diabetic limb salvage is an important medical procedure used to help patients with diabetes maintain their mobility and quality of life. Proper wound care is critical. Every 3 minutes in the United States, someone has a limb amputated due to diabetic wound complications.

Diabetic limb salvage is an important medical procedure used to help patients with diabetes maintain their mobility and quality of life. It is a complex technique that involves multiple steps, including wound care, amputation, and other long-term complications associated with diabetes and wound healing.

Diabetic limb salvage begins with an assessment of the patient’s condition. The doctor will evaluate the patient’s blood sugar levels, check for circulation problems, and assess the extent of the damage to the limb. Depending on the severity of the infected wound, the doctor may recommend amputation. If amputation is not necessary, the doctor will begin treatment to restore circulation, heal the wound, and minimize further complication or infection.

A proper wound care process is critical for successful diabetic limb salvage. The goal is to reduce the risk of infection and promote healing. Treatment may include debridement, which is the removal of dead or damaged tissue; wound dressings; and topical hydrogels. In some cases, medications may be injected directly into the wound to reduce swelling and promote healing.

If the patient’s wound is unable to heal or remains infected, the next step is amputation. This removes any damaged tissue and reduces the risk of further complications. The amputation may be partial or complete, depending on the extent of the infected wound.

Once the amputation has been completed, the patient may need to be fitted for a prosthetic. This involves taking measurements and creating a custom-fitted prosthetic that is designed to match the patient’s remaining limb. The prosthetic may be made of metal, plastic, or a combination of both.

Diabetic limb salvage is a complex and delicate process that requires the expertise of a medical team. It is important for patients to understand the risks and benefits of the procedure, as well as the long-term complications associated with diabetes. With proper care and treatment, diabetic limb salvage can help patients maintain their mobility and quality of life.

The American Diabetes Association® (ADA)’s Amputation Prevention Alliance is a campaign dedicated to eradicating unnecessary diabetes-related amputations. Please visit their site to get involved with the Amputation Prevention Alliance and learn more about other ways to give. We credit ADA for some of the information in this post and encourage others to support their research, development, and prevention efforts.