Chronic respiratory disease

March 2010


Charcot osteoarthropathy of the foot

Volume 39, No.3, March 2010 Pages 117-119

Byron M Perrin

Marcus J Gardner

Anwar Suhaimi

David Murphy


One of the most devastating complications of diabetes is Charcot osteoarthropathy. It can lead to gross structural deformities of the foot and ankle, and subsequent skin ulceration and lower limb amputation from soft tissue or bony infection. However, it is often unrecognised, with deleterious consequences.


This article describes the case of a man with type 1 diabetes who presented with Charcot osteoarthropathy of both feet, with a 3 month delay in diagnosis between the two presentations.


Treatment, patient comorbidities and risk management were similar for both feet, with a marked difference in outcome, demonstrating the importance of the timely diagnosis of Charcot osteoarthropathy.

Charcot osteoarthropathy, a destructive joint disorder, was first described in detail around 130 years ago by the celebrated French physician, Jean Martin Charcot, based on reports of patients afflicted with tabes dorsalis.1 Today diabetes mellitus is the most common aetiology associated with Charcot osteoarthropathy, with the joints of the foot and ankle being most commonly affected.2 With the prevalence of diabetes at epidemic proportions, it is likely that the medical practitioner will be exposed to an increasing number of patients with this condition.

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