The Diabetic Foot-Pain-Depression Cycle #ActAgainstAmputation #Depression

This is a study from our combined Dartmouth, Keck/USC, SMU team led by Brandon Brooks.


Background: More than 86,000 Americans with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) undergo nontraumatic lower-extremity amputations annually. The opioid-prescribing practice of podiatric surgeons remains understudied. We hypothesized that patients with T2DM who undergo any forefoot amputation while using antidepressant medication will have reduced odds of using opioids beyond 7 days.

Methods: We completed a retrospective cohort study examining patients with T2DM who underwent forefoot amputation (toe, ray, transmetatarsal). Data were restricted to patients with a hemoglobin A1c level less than 8.0% and an ankle-brachial index greater than 0.8. The outcome was use of postoperative opioids beyond 7 days. Patients received an initial opioid prescription of 7 days or less. We developed simple logistic regression models to identify the odds of a patient using opioids beyond 7 days by patient variables: age, race, sex, amputation level, body mass index, antidepressant medication use, and marital status. Variables with P < .1 in the univariate analysis were included in the multiple logistic regression model.

Results: Fifty patients met the inclusion criteria. Antidepressant use and marital status were the only statistically significant variables. Adjusting for marital status, patients with antidepressant use had decreased odds (odds ratio, 0.018; 95% confidence interval, 0.001-0.229; P = .002) of using opioids beyond 7 days after a diabetic forefoot amputation.

Conclusions: Patients with T2DM who used antidepressants had significantly reduced odds of using opioids beyond 1 week after forefoot amputations compared with those without antidepressant use. We proposed an underlying diabetic foot-pain-depression cycle. To break the cycle, podiatric surgeons should screen this population for depression preoperatively and postoperatively and not hesitate to make a mental health referral if warranted. Nontraumatic amputations can be a traumatic experience for patients; psychiatrists and other mental health providers should be members of limb preservation teams.

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