Survey shows that the number of amputations grew during the pandemic

Between 2012 and 2021, more than 245,000 Brazilians had lower limbs such as legs or feet amputated, that is, three surgeries of this kind were performed per hour. The survey, carried out by the Brazilian Society of Angiology and Vascular Surgery (SBACV), found an even greater increase in amputations during the Covid-19 pandemic period.

The reason for the increase in these procedures stems from the difficulty in monitoring the health complications of patients who, during the epidemiological emergency, abandoned treatments or avoided going to clinics and hospitals for fear of contamination by Covid-19. In 2020, when the epidemiological crisis began in Brazil, the daily average of amputations reached 75.64, while in 2021, it was 79.19. In these two years, a total of 56,513 Brazilians underwent the process of amputation or disarticulation of lower limbs.

The study was prepared from information available in the Ministry of Health database, and concerns health professionals in relation to the care of vascular diseases, such as diabetic foot syndrome. According to experts, more than half of the cases of amputations involve people with diabetes. However, lower limb surgeries can also be related to causes such as smoking, high blood pressure, advanced age, chronic renal failure, and family history.

For vascular surgeon Mateus Borges, director of Publications at SBACV, the data demonstrate the impact of the pandemic on patient care and quality of life. According to him, people with diabetes who develop ulcers and progress to infectious conditions require long periods of hospitalization or readmissions, with consequent loss or absence from work, early retirement and, sometimes, a drop in self-esteem, depression or the creation of a condition of dependence on food. family or friends.


Another worrying fact is the number of individuals who have diabetes and do not know it. “In the world, one in five people does not know they have this disease. The pandemic has revealed this to us. Many patients who come to the office or emergency department with diabetes complications only find out that they have it after treatment. Brazil already has a legion of amputees, which is growing exponentially”, comments the specialist.


Patients with diabetes and foot ulcers have a mortality rate twice as high compared to diabetic patients without foot ulcers. Those who undergo major lower limb amputation have a low survival rate.

Approximately 10% of patients who amputated the lower limb die during the pre and postoperative period; 30% in the first year after amputation; 50% in the third year; and 70% in the fifth. The percentage may be higher in developing countries, as the demand for medical care usually occurs when the ulcer infection is advanced.

Although the growth in the number of amputations performed between 2012 and 2021 is balanced across all regions of the country, the percentage change in this period draws attention in some states. Alagoas, for example, was the federative unit that suffered the most increase in the number of amputations, with a growth of 173% in the comparison between the beginning and the end of the period studied, with a jump from 182 to 497 procedures.

Other states that registered significant changes in the same interval were Roraima, with a variation of 160%; Ceará, up 146%; and Rondônia, with growth of 116% in the comparison between 2012 and 2021. On the other hand, Amapá and Amazonas were the only states that showed a decrease in the same analysis method, with reductions of 29% and 25%, respectively.

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