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Foot & Ankle

Multiple limb salvage attempts for diabetic foot infections

is it worth it?

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Limb salvage for diabetic foot infections often require multiple procedures. Some patients will eventually end up with below knee amputation (BKA) when all limb salvage attempts fail. We seek to study the patients’ ability to return to normal life, functional status, prosthesis usage and perspectives on multiple limb salvage procedures that culminated in BKA to review if they would undertake a similar path if their situation was repeated.

Patients and Methods

A total of 41 patients who underwent BKA between July 2011 and June 2013 were reviewed. They were divided into primary and creeping (prior multiple salvage procedures) amputations. The Barthel’s Index (BI) and the Reintegration to Normal Living Index (RNLI) were used. A questionnaire was used to identify whether the patient would undergo the same multiple attempts at limb salvage again if faced with the same problem.


All patients had a good mean BI of 14.2 (3 to 20) and RNLI of 73.2 (31 to 100). There was no difference in prosthesis usage, BI and RNLI between both groups. We found that 16 (94.1%) out of 17 patients with creeping amputation would undergo the same multiple salvage procedures if given a similar option. Conversely, only 15 (62.5%) patients with primary amputation would do the same again while the other nine (37.5%) patients choose to do everything possible to save their leg if faced with a similar situation (p = 0.001).


Most patients preferred to undergo multiple procedures to salvage the limb from diabetic foot infection even if it ultimately concluded with a BKA. All the patients had a moderately good functional outcome and ability to return to normal living after BKA.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2017;99-B:1502–7.

Correspondence should be sent to C. C. Hong; email:

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