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Byline: Seemab Hashim, Naeem Shahid, Aisha Ayyub and Najam us Sahar


Objective: To study the pattern of diabetic foot among diabetic patients visiting the tertiary care hospital.

Study Design: Observational descriptive study.

Place and Duration of Study: Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Rawalpindi and Military Hospital (MH), Rawalpindi, from June 2014 to August 2014.

Material and Methods: Fifty six known diabetic patients, undergoing treatment or follow up for diabetic foot were included in the study. A detailed medical history was obtained and recorded in the proforma. Frequencies and percentages of complications of diabetic foot were calculated. SPSS version 16 was used for data analysis.

Results: Out of fifty six diabetic patients, 35 (62.5%) were male and 21 (37.5%) were females; their mean age was 58.21 7.10 years. Mean duration of Diabetes mellitus was 6.04 3.35 years. The median known duration of DM2 was 11 (5-43) years. 21.4% of patients had foot infection while 35.7% patients were suffering from foot ulcers. 42.9% patients had both, foot infection along with ulcers.

Conclusion: Foot infections and foot ulcers are common feature of diabetic foot. Infected foot ulcer is a common cause of morbidity in diabetic patients, ultimately leading to dreaded complications like gangrene and amputations. All patients with diabetes should have an annual foot examination.

Keywords: Comorbidity, Diabetes Mellitus, Gangrene.


Diabetes Mellitus (DM) at present is the most prevalent chronic disease, affecting millions of people globally. It is estimated that approximately 5.9% of the adult population is suffering from DM worldwide1. Foot infections and foot ulcers are among the most common and serious complications of diabetes mellitus. They are associated with increased frequency and length of hospitalization and risk of lower extremity amputation2. Types of infection include cellulitis, myositis, abscesses, necrotizing cellulitis, septic arthritis, tendinitis, and osteomyelitis. Foot ulcerations, infections, and charcot neuropathic osteoarthropathy are three serious foot complications of diabetes mellitus that can too frequently lead to gangrene and lower limb amputation. These three conditions are defined as diabetic foot3.

Diabetic foot problems impose a major economic burden, and costs increase disproportionately to the severity of the condition4. Foot ulceration and infection are the leading risk factors for amputation. Each year more than 1 million people worldwide suffer from a leg amputation due to this condition. Between 50% and 70% of non-traumatic amputations occur in patients with diabetes. Most of these amputations are preceded by a foot ulcer. The most important factors related to the development of these ulcers are loss of sensation due to neuropathy minor trauma, foot deformity and peripheral vascular disease5.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, 15% of people with diabetes will develop foot ulcers during their lifetime6. Interventions aimed at preventing foot ulcers in patients such as the comprehensive glycemic control, education of people with diabetes and their families as well as health professionals, have been shown to reduce lower extremity amputations by 50% and 85%. Prevention and prompt diagnosis and treatment are necessary to prevent morbidity, especially amputation7.


This Observational descriptive study was

Table-1: Basic demographic data of patients with diabetic foot (n = 56).

Characteristics of diabetic patients###n (%) or Mean SD


Male###35 (62.5%)

Female###21 (37.5%)

Age (years)###58.2 7.1

Mean duration of Diabetes mellitus (years)###6.04 3.35


Yes###25 (44.6%)

No###31 (55.3%)


Insulin###24 (42.9%)

Oral hypoglycemic###26 (46.4%)

Both###6 (10.7%)

Glycemic control

Yes###10 (17.9%)

No###46 (82.1%)

Comorbid conditions (diagnosed)###26 (46.4%)

Hypertension###12 (21.4%)

Nephropathy###10 (17.9%)

Neuropathy###4 (7.1%)

conducted at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Rawalpindi and Military Hospital (MH), Rawalpindi, from June 2014 to November 2014, after departmental and institutional permission.

After obtaining the written informed consent, data was collected by interviewing the fifty six known diabetic patients, who were presenting with diabetic foot or on follow up for the same, while patients suffering from any other chronic systemic illness or autoimmune disease were excluded from the study. A detailed medical history including age, sex, smoker status, duration of diabetes, diagnosed co morbidities, drug therapy, patient compliance with dietary restrictions and medications, first incidence of diabetic foot and duration of treatment was obtained and recorded in the proforma. Patient's feet were then examined for location and number of ulcers or infectious lesions.

Results were analyzed using SPSS version 16. Mean and standard deviation (SD) were calculated for age, duration of diabetes and duration of diabetic complications. Frequencies and percentages were calculated for various types of diabetic foot infections and number of foot ulcers.


Out of fifty six diabetic patients, 35 (62.5%) were male and 21 (37.5%) were females, their mean age was 58.21 + 7.10 years. Mean duration of Diabetes mellitus was 6.04 + 3.35 years. Poor glycemic control was observed in 82.1% patients. (Table-1).

Frequencies of foot infections and foot ulceration among these diabetic patients have been illustrated in fig-1. Thirty six patients (64.3%) were suffering from various types of foot infections of which, gangrene was the most common foot infection experienced by 43% of these patients. (Fig-2).

Foot ulcers alone were observed in 36% patients. The most common site for ulcers was toes which were affected in 46.4% of these patients, followed by 10.7% of patients with ulcers on planter surface of foot. 14.3% of patients were having two or more than two foot ulcers.


Foot infections in diabetic patients are a common, complex and costly problem. They are potentially adverse with progression to deeper spaces and tissues and are associated with severe complications. Diabetic foot is defined as ulcer, infection, arthropathy or combination of these conditions. This complication of diabetes mellitus develops after a certain period of time in the presence of neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) as basic etiological factors8.

In our study diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) was found in 7.1% of diabetic patients supporting the result of study which estimated the worldwide prevalence of DPN is 8.1% -12.2% among diabetic patients9.

However a study from Saudi Arabia observed 19.9% prevalence of DPN among their diabetic population10. Small sample size of our study could explain this discrepancy in prevalence of DPN.

In the present study, several infectious conditions were encountered of which gangrene was most common in 66.6% of diabetic patients, followed by cellulitis in 22.2%. Gangrene infection of diabetic foot is a major risk factor for lower limb amputation11. Others infectious conditions like osteomyelitis and necrotizing fasciitis which were present in 11% of patients in the current study are common complications of diabetic foot. The risk for amputation in acute diabetic infections is four times higher with osteomyelitis than with soft tissue infection alone12.

According to previous studies foot ulceration occurs in 1525% of diabetic patients during the course of their disease13. Diabetic foot infection and ulcers are thought to be the most common causes of diabetes-related hospital admissions and precedes approximately 80% of non-traumatic lower- limb amputations14. In the current study 67.9% of patients were advised amputation due to diabetic foot complications. Our results concerning the risk of lower limb amputation associated with diabetic foot ulcers and infection are similar to findings described by Laghari et al15.


Diabetic complications are frequent among out patients referred to general hospitals. Foot infections and foot ulcers are common causes of morbidity in diabetic patients, ultimately leading to dreaded complications like gangrene and amputations. Prevention of diabetic foot complications begins with identifying patients at risk. All patients with diabetes should have an annual foot examination. It is essential to direct efforts in patient-care giver education to allow early recognition and management of all diabetic foot problems and to build integrated pathways of care that facilitate timely access to limb salvage procedures.


This study has no conflict of interest to declare by any author.


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Publication:Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal
Date:Dec 31, 2015

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