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Charcot foot arthropathy is a potentially limb-threatening condition that leads to progressive destruction of the bones and joints in the neuropathic foot. One of its main causes is diabetes mellitus whose prevalence is steadily increasing. The acute phase is often misdiagnosed thus leading to foot deformity, ulceration and increased risk of amputation. There is a paucity of literature on this condition from sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed at determining the extent of Charcot foot arthropathy, the radiological patterns of Charcot foot arthropathy and patient’s factors associated with Charcot foot arthropathy among adult patients with longstanding diabetes in an African setting.
This was a cross-sectional study that was carried at a national referral and university teaching hospital in Kampala, Uganda. One hundred patients with longstanding diabetes mellitus were consecutively recruited. Patients with a history of having diabetes mellitus for at least seven years since diagnosis were considered to have a longstanding disease. Clinical assessment of both feet was done. Weight-bearing radiographs of the selected foot were taken and evaluated using the Sanders and Frykberg and modified Eichenholtz classifications. A blood sample was taken for glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c). Data were summarized using descriptive statistics and student t-test.
The proportion of Charcot foot arthropathy among patients with longstanding diabetes was 12% of which one-third (4 out of 12) were acute cases. Fifty percent of the lesions were in the forefoot and 50% in the midfoot. Seventeen percent of lesions were at the inflammatory stage of the modified Eichenholtz classification, 50% at the developmental stage, 25% at the healing stage, and 8% at the remodelling stage. An abnormal foot radiograph was significantly associated with Charcot foot arthropathy among patients with longstanding diabetes.
Charcot foot arthropathy is fairly common in patients with longstanding diabetes mellitus in these settings with one third of patients presenting in the early acute phase. An abnormal weight-bearing radiograph was an associated factor of Charcot foot arthropathy among this specific group of patients. To reduce on the morbidity and limb threatening sequelae of this condition, clinicians are therefore advised to routinely examine the feet of patients with diabetes and send those with suspicious signs and symptoms for radiographic assessment.
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