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Study finds diabetics fare worse after ankle surgery



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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. _ Duke University Medical Center researchers have found that patients with diabetes who require surgery for ankle fractures have significantly higher rates of complications and higher hospital costs compared with non-diabetic patients.

Specifically, the researchers found that diabetics experienced one additional day of hospitalization (an average of 4.7 vs. 3.6 days) with costs approximately 20 percent higher ($12,898 vs. $10,794.) Additionally, diabetics had higher mortality rates (0.26 percent vs. 0.11 percent) and higher rates of post-operative complications (4.63 percent vs. 3.27 percent.)

The results of the Duke analysis were published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

"While a number of smaller studies have indicated that diabetic patients tended to have worse outcomes after ankle surgery, this is the first large-scale analysis of a cross-section of patients across the U.S.," said Shanti Ganesh, lead author of the study and fourth-year year medical student at Duke University School of Medicine.

Ganesh said the results of the study indicate that physicians taking care of ankle fracture patients should appreciate the effect that diabetes can have on the treatment and recovery of their patients. Strategies could include close monitoring of glucose levels during and after surgery and the prophylactic use of medications to prevent the formation of deep venous thrombosis (DVT), which can occur in surgery patients who are bedridden for extended periods of time.

One interesting finding, which the researchers said was not a focus of the current study and confirms other findings, was that the percentage of patients with diabetes steadily increased over the 12-year period of the records studied, from 1988 to 2000.

Carolyn Susman writes for the Palm Beach Post. E-mail: carolyn_susman@pbpost.com

Cox News Service

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