Diabetes-Related Major and Minor Amputation Risk Increased During the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2023 Mar-Apr;113(2):20-224. doi: 10.7547/20-224.

Abstract

Background: Along with significant case transmission, hospitalizations, and mortality experienced during the global severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 pandemic, there existed a disruption in the delivery of health care across multiple specialties. We studied the effect of the pandemic on inpatients with diabetic foot problems in a Level I trauma center in central Ohio.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of patients necessitating a consultation by the foot and ankle surgery service were reviewed from the first 8 months of 2020. A total of 270 patients met the inclusion criteria and were divided into prepandemic (n = 120) and pandemic groups (n = 150). Data regarding demographics, medical history, severity of current infection, and medical or surgical management were collected and analyzed.

Results: The odds of undergoing any level of amputation was 10.8 times higher during the pandemic versus before the pandemic. The risk of major amputations (below-the-knee or higher) likewise increased, with an odds ratio of 12.5 among all patients in the foot and ankle service during the pandemic. Of the patients undergoing any amputation, the odds for undergoing a major amputation was 3.1 times higher than before the pandemic. In addition, the severity of infections increased during the pandemic, and a larger proportion of the cases were classified as emergent in the pandemic group compared to the prepandemic group.

Conclusions: The effect of the pandemic on the health-care system has had a deleterious effect on people with diabetes mellitus (DM)-related foot problems, resulting in more severe infections and more emergencies, and necessitating more amputations. When an amputation was performed, the likelihood that it was a major amputation also increased.

MeSH terms

  • Amputation, Surgical
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Diabetic Foot* / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Foot* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Retrospective Studies