We analysed the complication rate in 140 below-knee amputations in relation to surgical technique and the presence of diabetes. In all cases, the skin perfusion pressure was measured below the knee before operation to provide an objective evaluation of the microcirculation. In diabetic patients we found a significantly higher complication rate after using a long posterior flap than after equal sagittal flaps. No such difference could be demonstrated in non-diabetic patients. We suggest that the higher incidence of atherosclerotic lesions in the three major arteries below the knee in diabetic patients may account for the difference. We recommend the use of the sagittal technique for below-knee amputation in diabetic patients.

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