Every year, in the USA alone, there are approximately 75,000 amputations as a result of diabetic foot ulcers (1) a figure which is similar across the developed world. In England in 2015 there was a record 200 amputations per day and 7,370 for the year (2).
Many diabetics suffer from nerve damage in their lower extremities known as peripheral neuropathy resulting in reduced or eliminated sensation in their legs and feet. This reduction in sensation means that cuts and sores go un-noticed by the patient and can develop into ulcers. These ulcers are often not identified until days or weeks after they first occur and healing is often extremely slow, taking months or even years to heal. In many cases the wounds become infected which can lead to amputation in order to stop the infection spreading.
Up to 25% of all diabetics will develop a DFU at some point in their life but for the high risk group the annual incidence of DFUs is as high as 32.3 (3). High risk patients are those that suffer from peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease or who have a history of ulceration.
The total cost of treating DFUs in the USA has been estimated as being $17 billion (4). In addition to the huge financial cost, the human cost of a diabetic amputation is almost unquantifiable. Aside from the clear impact losing a limb would have on mobility and independence, it is also linked with a severely reduced quality of life and higher rates of depression. More worrying is the mortality rate of a patient post amputation. The relative 5-year mortality rate is 68%, and is worse than all forms of cancer except lung (5). In addition to this the recurrence rate of amputations is extremely high with 9-20% receiving a second amputation after year 1 and 28-51% after year 55.
Bluedrop Medical’s Technology
Bluedrop Medical’s device enables diabetic foot ulcers to be detected early; when treatment is easier and outcomes and costs are greatly improved.The home based device performs a daily scan of the patient’s feet and sends the data to the cloud for analysis through advanced algorithms capable of detecting abnormalities. By detecting ulcers early, the technology can prevent hundreds of thousands of amputations, improving lives and saving healthcare systems millions of euro each year.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014), Crude and Age-Adjusted Hospital Discharge Rates for Nontraumatic Lower Extremity Amputation per 1,000 Diabetic Population, United States, 1988–2009
- Diabetes.co.uk (2016), New figures reveal worrying increase of amputations in England
- Lavery et al. (2008), Reevaluating the way we classify the diabetic foot: restructuring the diabetic foot risk classification system of the International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot
- Barshes et al. (2013), The system of care for the diabetic foot: objectives, outcomes, and opportunities
- Armstrong (2007), Guest Editorial: are diabetes-related wounds and amputations worse than cancer?