DUBAI // The number of foot amputations for diabetics has dropped by almost 50 per cent in the emirate over two years.
In Rashid Hospital, the number of diabetic foot ulcer patients fell from 685 in 2009 to 452 last year, and 316 so far this year, and officials say that mirrors the fall in the number of amputations.
Dr Marwan Ahmad Al Zarouni, the head of the hospital's wound and stoma care unit, attributed the decline to early detection.
"Through proper assessment and treatment of patients we have been able to reduce the number of amputations," Dr Al Zarouni said.
He said a particular focus had been put on prevention.
"We are back-tracking, going to the medical providers and practitioners and providing them with peripheral health education," Dr Al Zarouni said.
Factors that could lead to foot amputation include a trauma or an ulcer in the foot, neglecting blood sugar levels, not taking medication regularly and not following a proper diet.
"Any one of these can result in gangrene, dryness and complete death of the tissue," Dr Al Zarouni said.
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can affect the vascularity, or blood vessels, of the foot. This can affect the nerves, and soon all sensation is lost, he said.
"So if the patient injures his foot it will not heal because of the vascularity," Dr Al Zarouni said. "Bacteria starts forming resulting in an ulcer. If this is neglected, the surrounding tissue will start to die."
He said there were two types of gangrene. One was dry gangrene, which results in the dead tissue falling off on its own. The second was wet gangrene, which he called "very dangerous".
"This type of gangrene can rise and affect other parts of the body," Dr Al Zarouni said. "If it's starts in a single toe it can spread to the rest of the foot, and even the leg."
About 85 per cent of diabetic foot amputations can be avoided by timely intervention, he said.
Dr Al Zarouni was the chairman of the international diabetic foot conference held last week at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel and Conference Centre in Dubai.