Skin Condition warns of Diabetes Amputation

Diabetes and amputations are synonomous with badly controlled blood-sugars. Leg ulcers that do not heal can lead to amputations, usually below the knee. Now a study has revealed that changes in skin condition creates a higher risk of ulcers.

14 people with diabetes and amputations were studied by scientists at Bristol University, comparing skin tissues taken from the amputated limb with the remaining, healthy limb. They discovered that bad circulation, creating a poor blood supply, led to problems in the skin tissue of the damaged limb. The skin was renewing at a much quicker rate than normal, so collagen - which is the protein needed to support the connective tissue - was abnormal. This meant the skin was not as strong as it needed to be and ulcers were forming more easily.

Knowing how the tissue is affected means doctors can develop treatments to prevent ulcers forming.

"The results of our study have opened up new avenues that previously no-one knew existed and the ramifications are far reaching in terms of finding clinical treatments to save people's limbs," said Dr John Tarlton, who discovered the link in his research at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

"We believe that the principles of this research may be applied to other disorders where the tissues are affected by oxygen deficiency, such as ischaemic heart disease. More investigations are needed to understand how widespread this problem is, but hopefully this breakthrough will mean that we can start looking to ways to improve the quality of a great many people's lives," he continued.

People with type 2 or adult onset diabetes are reckoned to be most at risk because of the inherent problem of maintaining good blood-sugar levels, which often creates poor circulation. Good control of blood glucose levels is imperative to prevent these types of problems as well as other health risks.


Top: Diabetes-Amputations