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One hundred-six patients underwent emergency debridement of a deep foot space abscess. While 43 patients were admitted after an outpatient visit with immediate surgical debridement (group A), 63 patients were transferred from other hospitals after a mean stay of 6.2 +/- 7.5 days without debridement (group B). No significant differences were observed in the demographic and clinical features between the 2 groups, except for the following differences in group B: higher blood glucose level on admission (P = .015), lower serum albumin level (P = .005), and a more frequent extension of the infection to the heel (P = .005). Eradication of the infection was obtained in group A without amputation in 9 patients, with an amputation of 1 or more rays in 21, with metatarsal amputations in 12, and with a Chopart amputation in 1. In group B, incision and drainage alone were performed in 4 patients, amputation of 1 or more rays in 21, metatarsal amputations in 10, Chopart amputations in 23, and an above-the-ankle amputation in 5. The amputation level was significantly more proximal in group B (chi(2) = 24.4, P < .001). There was no significant difference in the presence of peripheral arterial occlusive disease between the 2 groups (P = .841). Regression logistic analysis showed a significant relationship between the amputation level and the number of days elapsed before debridement (odds ratio, 1.61; P = .015; confidence interval, 1.10-2.36), but not with the presence of peripheral occlusive disease (odds ratio, 1.73; P = .376; confidence interval, 0.29-15.3). These data show that a delay in the surgical debridement of a deep space abscess increases the amputation level. Accuracy in the diagnosis of peripheral occlusive disease and immediate revascularization yield similar outcomes in patients with or without peripheral occlusive disease.