Background: There is little information available about the profile of lower extremity morbidity in diabetic patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in the Canadian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal population.
Method: A retrospective review of medical records in 127 diabetic patients on hemodialysis at a tertiary health care center was performed. Patient interviews and physical examinations were performed in 77 of these patients (36 Aboriginal, 41 non-Aboriginal), and followup evaluation was done in 39 patients at an average of 1 year later.
Results: Aboriginal patients were an average of 7 years younger than non-Aboriginal patients. Comorbidities of diabetes and ESRD were frequent. Peripheral neuropathy and inability to occlude the vessels were present in the majority of feet. Lower extremity complications were frequent, including prior foot ulcer in the majority of patients and an amputation in more than one fourth of the patients. Aboriginal patients had a significantly greater frequency of prior foot ulcer, mean number of foot ulcers per patient, amputation, prior osteomyelitis, and Charcot foot than non-Aboriginal patients. Almost all patients were at risk for future foot ulcer, but many patients did not inspect their feet daily. Home care was significantly less frequently available for Aboriginal than non-Aboriginal patients. The majority of patients had inadequate custom or prefabricated shoes and did not wear insoles on the day of examination. Aboriginal patients cited financial cost, insufficient family support, and language barriers as reasons for inadequate foot care and footwear more frequently than non-Aboriginal subjects. A significantly smaller frequency of Aboriginal patients had good knowledge of footwear or diet than non-Aboriginal patients.
Conclusions: Lower extremity complications were significantly more frequent in Aboriginal than non-Aboriginal diabetic patients with ESRD. Financial cost and knowledge deficit were barriers to adequate foot care and footwear. These findings support the need for a formal foot care and footwear program for this high-risk population.