Vascular Assessment in the Neuropathic Diabetic Foot

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital, Republic of Singapore.
Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research (Impact Factor: 2.77). 12/1995; 320(320):95-100. DOI: 10.1097/00003086-199511000-00016
Source: PubMed


Diabetic foot infections, a common source of morbidity and mortality, often have been related to vasculopathy and neuropathy in its etiopathogenesis, especially in the elderly person with diabetes. However, blood flow in the neuropathic diabetic foot has not been evaluated extensively, and there is evidence of abnormal blood flow patterns in the neuropathic diabetic foot unrelated to ischemia. The authors studied young persons with diabetes, with varying degrees of neuropathy, to assess the extent of vasculopathy in their lower limbs. Twelve young persons with insulin-dependent (Type I) diabetes (mean age, 36.1 +/- 1.975 years) and peripheral neuropathy, all of whom had previous surgery for diabetic foot infections, were identified. Confirmatory evidence of neuropathy was made using electromyographic studies and clinical tests that showed severe peripheral neuropathy. The results of vascular assessment of both lower limbs did not reveal any change in the pulse wave velocities from the popliteal to the digital vessels of the big toe as compared with correspondingly matched controls. There also was no significant stenosis in any of the vessels studied as far as the level of the dorsalis pedis and posterior tibial vessels. The normal triphasic pattern of arterial blood flow was lost. A monophasic pattern was present in all patients with prolonged diastolic flow at the level of the dorsalis pedis and posterior tibial arteries and distally. The pulsatility index was 3.14 +/- 0.81 as compared with 9.85 +/- 4.2. Mean toe pressures in the patient with diabetes was 64.17 +/- 20.87 mm Hg as compared with 98.23 +/- 10.12 mm Hg in controls. A linear correlation of decreasing toe pressures with increasing severity of neuropathy was seen (R = 0.7). The data suggest that changes exist in the blood flow patterns in young patients with diabetes and neuropathy, even in the absence of lower limb ischemia.

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