Department of Plastic Surgery, E-Da Hospital/I-Shou University, Taiwan.
Entry lesions at the toes interdigital spaces, in the setting of chronic lymphedema, are strongly associated with repetitive infective episodes which cause significant morbidity. A prospective study was designed to evaluate the outcome in 2 groups of patients affected by end stage III lymphedema of the lower extremity, treated with the Charles procedure with or without simultaneous amputation of the toes. At a mean 3 years of follow-up, 20% of the patients receiving elective toes amputation experienced recurrence of the infection and none required more proximal amputations. Among the patients not desiring elective toes amputation; 83% suffered multiples attacks of cellulitis and in 88% the toes were eventually amputated. The difference in the number of infective episodes between the 2 groups was highly significant. No cases of recurrent lymphedema were registered. Elective toes amputation in combination with the Charles procedure reduces recurrent cellulitis and long-term morbidity in stage III lymphedema of the lower leg.