Fewer than half of people with serious limb and life-threatening infections require an amputation, according to a recent study by researchers at The University of Arizona College of Medicine and two other institutions.
Offering new hope to patients, the study is the first in the medical literature to evaluate a large number of patients (185) with laboratory-confirmed bone infections. Researchers at the Complutense University in Madrid and La Paloma Hospital in the Canary Islands also participated in the study, which was published in the journal Diabetologia.
"The data from this study are very encouraging," said Dr. David G. Armstrong, professor of surgery at the UA Department of Surgery and the study's senior author. "It suggests that people who once were thought to be condemned to amputation may be treated with local conservative surgery.
"Previous work over the last decade showed that 40 percent of patients with similar infections received high-level (above-the-foot) amputations."
Armstrong, who directs the UA's Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance, added, "We now know that what we term 'aggressive conservative therapy' - offering targeted surgical intervention to the bone infection coupled with targeted vascular surgery - may offer significant hope for people who previously had few options."