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Surgical management of Diabetic foot ulcers: A Tanzanian university teaching hospital experience

Phillipo L Chalya1*, Joseph B Mabula1, Ramesh M Dass2, Rodrick Kabangila3, Hyasinta Jaka3, Mabula D Mchembe4, Johannes B Kataraihya3, Nkinda Mbelenge2 and Japhet M Gilyoma1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Weill-Bugando University College of Health Sciences, Mwanza, Tanzania

2 Department of Orthopaedics, Weill-Bugando University College of Health Sciences, Mwanza, Tanzania

3 Department of Internal Medicine, Weill-Bugando University College of Health Sciences, Mwanza, Tanzania

4 Department of Surgery, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:365  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-365

Published: 24 September 2011



Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) pose a therapeutic challenge to surgeons, especially in developing countries where health care resources are limited and the vast majority of patients present to health facilities late with advanced foot ulcers. A prospective descriptive study was done at Bugando Medical Centre from February 2008 to January 2010 to describe our experience in the surgical management of DFUs in our local environment and compare with what is known in the literature.


Of the total 4238 diabetic patients seen at BMC during the period under study, 136 (3.2%) patients had DFUs. Males outnumbered females by the ratio of 1.2:1. Their mean age was 54.32 years (ranged 21-72years). Thirty-eight (27.9%) patients were newly diagnosed diabetic patients. The majority of patients (95.5%) had type 2 diabetes mellitus. The mean duration of diabetes was 8.2 years while the duration of DFUs was 18.34 weeks. Fourteen (10.3%) patients had previous history of foot ulcers and six (4.4%) patients had previous amputations. The forefoot was commonly affected in 60.3% of cases. Neuropathic ulcers were the most common type of DFUs in 57.4% of cases. Wagner's stage 4 and 5 ulcers were the most prevalent at 29.4% and 23.5% respectively. The majority of patients (72.1%) were treated surgically. Lower limb amputation was the most common surgical procedure performed in 56.7% of cases. The complication rate was (33.5%) and surgical site infection was the most common complication (18.8%). Bacterial profile revealed polymicrobial pattern and Staphylococcus aureus was the most frequent microorganism isolated. All the microorganisms isolated showed high resistance to commonly used antibiotics except for Meropenem and imipenem, which were 100% sensitive each respectively. The mean hospital stay was 36.24 ± 12.62 days (ranged 18-128 days). Mortality rate was 13.2%.


Diabetic foot ulceration constitutes a major source of morbidity and mortality among patients with diabetes mellitus at Bugando Medical Centre and is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputation. A multidisciplinary team approach targeting at good glycaemic control, education on foot care and appropriate footware, control of infection and early surgical intervention is required in order to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with DFUs. Due to polymicrobial infection and antibiotic resistance, surgical intervention must be concerned.

Diabetic foot ulcers; prevalence; pattern; surgical management; Tanzania