Foot problems are common in the remaining foot of diabetic amputees. Because high foot pressures are associated with foot ulceration, we studied foot pressures of the remaining foot of diabetic and nondiabetic unilateral amputees.
Four age-matched groups of 11 subjects were studied. The groups were comprised of diabetic subjects with previous major amputation, nondiabetic nonneuropathic amputees, diabetic nonamputee patients with similar peripheral nerve involvement as the diabetic amputees, and nondiabetic control subjects. Vibration perception threshold (VPT) was assessed by biothesiometry and foot pressures with an optical pedobarograph.
Mean ± SE VPT in the diabetic amputees was significantly higher than the nondiabetic amputees (40.2 ± 3.7 vs. 17.7 ± 2.8 V, P < 0.002) and similar to diabetic nonamputees (43.4 ± 3.3 V, NS). VPT was abnormal in 9 (82%) diabetic amputees, 2 (18%) nondiabetic amputees, and 10 (91%) nonamputee diabetic patients. The mean peak foot pressure in the diabetic amputees was higher compared with nondiabetic amputees (18.3 ± 2.2 vs. 11.3 ± 1.4 kg/cm2, P < 0.05) and control subjects (10.0 ± 1.5 kg/m2, P < 0.01), but no difference existed with diabetic nonamputees. Abnormally high foot pressures (> 12.3 kg/cm2) were present in 8 (73%) diabetic amputees, 3 (27%) nondiabetic amputees, 8 (73%) diabetic nonamputees, and 4 (36%) healthy subjects.
We conclude that high pressures are present under the remaining foot in diabetic amputees, and that these pressures are associated with diabetic neuropathy. Prosthetic usage does not increase the pressures under the remaining foot in nondiabetic amputees.