Background: Nontraumatic lower limb amputation is a serious complication of both diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Many people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) suffer from advanced progression of these diseases. This study presents descriptive information on the rate of lower limb amputation among people with ESRD who are covered by the Medicare program.
Methods: Using hospital bill data for the years 1991 through 1994 from the Health Care Financing Administration's ESRD program management and medical information system (PMMIS), amputations were based on ICD9 coding. These hospitalizations were then linked back to the PMMIS enrollment database for calculation of rates.
Results: The rate of lower limb amputation increased during the four-year period from 4.8 per 100 person years in 1991 to 6.2 in 1994. Among persons whose renal failure was attributed to diabetic nephropathy, the rates in 1991 and 1994 were 11.8 and 13.8, respectively. The rate among diabetic persons with ESRD was 10 times as great as among the diabetic population at large. Two thirds died within two years following the first amputation.
Conclusions: The ESRD population is at an extremely high risk of lower limb amputation. Coordinated programs to screen for high-risk feet and to provide regular foot care for those at high risk combined with guidelines for treatment and referral of ulceration are needed.