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Low Recurrence Rate of Diabetic Foot Ulcer After Nerve Decompression

D. Scott Nickerson Northeast Wyoming Wound Clinic, Sheridan Memorial Hospital, Sheridan, WY; PO Box 278, Big Horn, WY 82833. (E-mail: thenix@fiberpipe.net)

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Background: This study reevaluates the previously reported subjective benefits of surgical nerve decompression in diabetes with an easily observable, fully objective outcome measure to eliminate the placebo effect and observer bias.

Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of a series of 75 feet in 65 patients with diabetes and previous neuropathic ulcer who had surgical decompressions of the peroneal and posterior tibial nerve branches at anatomical fibro-osseous tunnels. After a minimum of 12 months of follow-up, the incidence of ipsilateral ulcer was assessed.

Results: Postoperatively, four ulcer recurrences and four new-site ulcers developed in 187 patient-years. Mean follow-up was 2.49 years (range, 1–13 years). The combined linear annual risk of ipsilateral recurrence and new ulcer is 4.28%, the lowest reported in the scientific literature.

Conclusions: Surgical decompression of lower-extremity nerves of high-risk feet at fibro-osseous anatomical tunnels was followed by a low annual incidence of ulcer recurrence. This objective outcome measure suggests benefits of nerve decompression in diabetic neuropathy, as have previous reports using pain and sensory change as subjective measures. Unrecognized nerve entrapment may frequently coexist with diabetic sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy in patients with diabetic foot ulcer. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(2): 111–115, 2010)