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Examination of the lower limb in high risk patients

By Derek Santos and Tom Carline


When 'at risk' patients say that their feet are killing them, they may be right. Diabetes mellitus accounts for 50 to 70% of all nontraumatic amputations with a three year survival rate of those who undergo a lower limb amputation of 50%. Furthermore, when compared to the 'normal' foot, the 'at risk' foot is more likely to develop complications, thus it is vital to identify such 'at risk' individuals in an attempt to prevent the risk of deformity, ulceration, infection and/or necrosis/gangrene. The assessment involves history taking, the examination and further investigations, providing the necessary information to make a clinical diagnosis and identify 'at risk' groups. During the examination the foot-wear should be checked, nails and skin condition should be closely inspected and tests should be carried out for signs of peripheral neuropathy, ischaemia and venous/lymphatic deficiency. Other complications like deformity and increases in foot pressure may cause ulceration. Where ulcers are present, an in-depth systematic inspection is necessary. A thorough lower limb examination of high risk patients provides the necessary information to make a clinical diagnosis and plan preventative measures to avoid future complications

Publisher: Tissue Viability Society
Year: 2000
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