Care improvements reduce amputations

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Advances in diabetic foot ulcer treatments are helping reduce lower-extremity amputations, a new study finds.

Researchers at the University of Iowa Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation studied a decade's worth of Medicare claims to gain insights on amputation rates and diabetic foot ulcer treatments. 

They found that amputations declined 28.8% percent over a decade. Full findings appear in the July's Journal of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.

“The shift in amputation level observed in the Medicare population is quite striking,” said Phinit Phisitkul, M.D., the study's main author. “What this means for patients is increased mobility, independence and survival rates.” 

At the same time that amputations were becoming less common, the frequency of orthopaedic treatments for diabetic foot ulcers rose significantly, they found. 

These treatments help diabetic foot ulcers heal and help prevent their recurrence by relieving pressure where the ulcers tend to form, he added.

By 2034, 44 million people are expected to be diagnosed with diabetes, according to a University of Chicago study.