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Blacks More Likely to Get Amputations Due to Blocked Blood Flow: Study
Date:3/20/2013

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Race appears to play a role in determining what kind of treatment is offered to patients grappling with severely restricted blood flow to their feet, new research suggests.

Hospitalized black patients are notably more likely to undergo an amputation than hospitalized whites, the study found.

In turn, researchers said, whites were more likely than blacks to be afforded some form of blood flow restoration surgery in place of amputation.

"The main take-home point is that a large disparity exists between the treatment that white and non-white patients receive, and this disparity appears to go beyond simple differences in insurance status and other variables that are often cited as the cause," said lead study author Dr. Tyler Durazzo.

"There are many possible explanations for the disparity, and further studies are needed to delve deeper into all possible causes," he added.

The study, appearing online March 20 in JAMA Surgery, looks at intervention options for a condition known as "lower extremity ischemia." The condition develops after hardening of arteries increasingly reduces blood flow to the leg and foot, ultimately cutting off essential oxygen and nutrients.

Progressive loss of function in the affected extremity leads to hospitalization, at which point patients and physicians are faced with the choice of whether to attempt to save the affected area by amputation or less drastic surgery.

To explore the possible impact of race on such decisions, a Yale University School of Medicine team led by Durazzo (now a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital) analyzed information from a large U.S. database.

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample gathers statistics on all hospital discharges that occur at more than 1,000 hospitals nationwide, amounting to roughly one in five hospital discharges across the country. Duraz
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