Diabetes is associated with a range of potential complications, including foot ulcers and lower limb amputations. Nearly half of lower limb amputations involve above or below knee amputation; the remainder, which are classified as minor, involve toes or feet. Diabetic foot ulcers and amputations severely reduce one’s quality of life and have major impacts on related health problems, disability and premature death.
This report analyses data from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 to provide information on the amount of non-fatal burden (as measured by years lived in less than full health) due to diabetes-related lower limb amputations in Australia.
In 2012–13, there were 3,570 lower limb amputations provided in hospital to admitted patients with a diagnosis of diabetes.
In 2011, after adjusting for differences in population age structures, the rate of non-fatal burden due to lower limb amputations as a result of diabetes complications was:
- 3 times as high for males as for females
- 4 times as high in the Northern Territory as the national rate
- highest among people living in Very remote areas, who experienced rates over 4 times as high as for people living in Major cities and Inner regional areas
- highest in the lowest socioeconomic group, who experienced a rate 1.8 times as high as that for the highest socioeconomic group
- higher among Indigenous Australians, who experienced a rate 3.8 times as high as that for non-Indigenous Australians.
While there was a marked increase (40%) in diagnosed diabetes prevalence between 2003 and 2011, the proportion of people with diagnosed diabetes who experienced lower limb amputation declined over this period (from 2.4% to 1.7%). This may reflect improved management of diabetes during this period and that people are being diagnosed earlier in their disease progression.