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Foot Ankle Int. 2000 Apr;21(4):311-9.

Closed ankle fractures in the diabetic patient.

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Orthopaedic Section of the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine and the San Juan Veterans Administration Hospital, 00936-5067, USA.


Systemic and local manifestations of diabetes mellitus may complicate the treatment of ankle fractures in the diabetic population. We studied 98 patients (73 non-diabetics and 25 diabetics) who were treated for closed ankle fractures by either surgical or non-surgical methods. We found that overall, the risk of infection in the diabetic population (32%) was 4 times higher than in the non-diabetic population (8%). The infection rate in the diabetic group treated surgically more than doubled that in the non-diabetic group. Four out of six diabetic patients treated with cast became infected compared to no infections in the five non-diabetics treated with a cast. Even though the diabetic foot and ankle are well studied, the medical literature is not conclusive regarding the management of ankle fractures in the diabetic patient. Diabetic patients treated conservatively had a tendency to become infected over those treated surgically. Peripherovascular disease, peripheral neuropathy and swelling and/or ecchymosis increased the risk of infection in the diabetic population. Diabetic patients with poor compliance had a tendency to become infected more than those who were compliant. We concluded that the diabetic patient who is poorly compliant with evidence of neuropathic disease, peripherovascular disease and severe swelling and ecchymosis presents the most difficult group to manage. Although these patients are poor surgical candidates, they are also the most difficult to manage and also most prone to infection and complications if treated conservatively. When faced with this difficult scenario a multidisciplinary team approach would probably yield the best possible results by early identification and intervention in these patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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