To evaluate in diabetic patients with foot ulcers the angiographic findings of peripheral occlusive arterial disease and their role as a prognostic determinant for major amputation.


From 1993 to 1995, 104 diabetic inpatients with foot ulcers underwent arteriography on the ulcerated limb. Stenoses in the iliac trunk, the superficial femoral artery, the profunda femoral artery, the popliteal artery, the anterior tibial artery, the posterior tibial artery, and the peroneal artery were scored on the basis of vessel lumen reduction: 0 if stenoses involved a reduction in the vessel lumen of <50%, 1 if stenoses involved 50 to <75% reduction, 2 if stenoses involved 75 to <100% reduction, and 3 if total occlusion was present. The sum of the points assigned to each of these arteries was called the angiographic score.


Stenoses causing a vessel lumen reduction ≥50% were detected in 103 patients (99%). Stenoses were also detected in subjects with palpable foot pulses, ankle-brachial indexes ≥1, or transcutaneous oxygen tension ≥50 mmHg. The risk of major amputation was increased significantly when total occlusion was present in the popliteal and infrapopliteal arteries (x2 for trend = 50.57, P < 0.001). No major amputation was carried out in patients with angiographic scores <10; major amputation was carried out in all the patients with scores >14. Multivariate analysis indicated a high angiographic score as an independent risk factor for major amputation (odds ratio 2.32, P = 0.001, CI 1.40–3.84).


Angiography permits an exact detection of occlusive arterial disease in subjects with normal results for noninvasive vascular procedures. A score that has a relevant prognostic value for major amputation can be obtained from the evaluation of the extent and diffusion of the stenoses.

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