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.
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
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.
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