Classifying diabetic foot surgery: toward a rational definition

Diabet Med. 2003 Apr;20(4):329-31. doi: 10.1046/j.1464-5491.2003.00933.x.


The purpose of this manuscript was to describe a classification of diabetic foot surgery performed in the absence of critical limb ischaemia. The basis of this classification is centered on three fundamental variables which are present in the assessment of risk and indication: 1) the presence or absence of neuropathy (loss of protective sensation); 2) the presence or absence of an open wound; 3) the presence or absence of acute, limb-threatening infection. The conceptual framework for this classification is to define distinct classes of surgery in an order of theoretically increasing risk for high-level amputation. These classes include: Class I: Elective Diabetic Foot Surgery (procedures performed to treat a painful deformity in a patient without loss of protective sensation); Class II: Prophylactic (Procedure performed to reduce risk of ulceration or reulceration in person with loss of protective sensation but without open wound); Class III: Curative (Procedure performed to assist in healing open wound) and Class IV: Emergent (Procedure performed to limit progression of acute infection). The presence of critical ischaemia in any of these classes of surgery should prompt a vascular evaluation to consider a) the urgency of the procedure being considered and b) possible revascularization prior or temporally concomitant with the procedure. It is our hope that this system begins a dialogue amongst physicians and surgeons which can ultimately facilitate communication, enhance perspective, and improve care.

MeSH terms

  • Amputation / methods
  • Decision Making
  • Diabetic Foot / surgery*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / complications*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Wound Healing