Neuropathic foot ulcers are a common complication in patients with diabetes. These ulcers are often slow to heal and can lead to infection, further tissue destruction, osteomyelitis, and amputation. These patients pose a challenge to clinicians who must determine the best treatment options while balancing the risks, benefits, and costs. Conservative therapies often present disappointing results, and a number of newer “biologic bandages” have been developed to better assist the healing process. We describe results from diabetic patients with neuropathic foot ulcers treated with a new amniotic membrane–based allograft.
The effect of lower-extremity pathology and surgical intervention on automobile driving function has been a topic of contemporary interest in the medical literature. The objective of this review was to summarize the topic of driving function in the setting of lower-extremity impairment. Included studies involved lower-extremity immobilization devices, elective and traumatic lower-limb surgery, chronic musculoskeletal pathology, and diabetes as it relates to the foot and ankle, focusing on the effect each may have on driving function. We also discuss the basic US state regulations with respect to impaired driving and changes to automobile structure that can be made in the setting of lower-extremity pathology.
Background: Diabetic foot infections (DFIs) can lead to limb loss and mortality. To improve patient care at a safety-net teaching hospital, we created a multidisciplinary limb salvage service (LSS).
Methods: We recruited a cohort prospectively and compared it to a historical control group. Adults admitted to the newly established LSS for DFI during a 6-month period from 2016 to 2017 were included prospectively. Patients admitted to the LSS had routine endocrine and infectious diseases consultations according to a standardized protocol. A retrospective analysis of patients admitted to the acute care surgical service for DFI before creation of the LSS during an 8-month period from 2014 to 2015 was performed.
Results: A total of 250 patients were divided into two groups: the pre-LSS (n = 92) and the LSS (n = 158) groups. There were no significant differences in baseline characteristics. Although all patients were ultimately diagnosed with diabetes, more patients in the LSS group had hypertension (71% versus 56%; P = .01) and a prior diagnosis of diabetes mellitus (92% versus 63%; P < .001) compared to the pre-LSS group. Significantly, with the LSS, fewer patients underwent a below-the-knee amputation (3.6% versus 13%; P = .001). There was no difference in the length of hospital stay or 30-day readmission rate between the groups. Further broken down into Hispanic versus non-Hispanic, we noted that Hispanics had significantly lower rates of below-the-knee amputations (3.6% versus 13.0%; P = .02) in the LSS cohort.
Conclusions: The initiation of a multidisciplinary LSS decreased the below-the-knee amputation rate in patients with DFIs. Length of stay was not increased, nor was the 30-day readmission rate affected. These results suggest that a robust multidisciplinary LSS dedicated to the management of DFIs is both feasible and effective, even in safety-net hospitals.
Background: We sought to determine the incidence of tinea pedis in patients with otherwise asymptomatic pedal interdigital macerations. Both diabetic and nondiabetic populations were compared. Age and body mass index were also examined for their significance.
Methods: Fungal cultures of skin scrapings from 80 patients (77 male and 3 female; mean age, 65 years) with interdigital macerations were performed; 40 patients had previously been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and 40 did not have diabetes.
Results: Cultures revealed a 40% prevalence of tinea pedis in the total study population. The prevalence in the nondiabetic group was 37.5% and 42.5% for the diabetic group. This was not a statistically significant difference. Among patients with interdigital macerations that yielded positive fungal cultures, those in the nondiabetic group were 6.3 years older than those in the diabetic group. It was also observed that the nondiabetic patients with interdigital macerations yielding positive fungal cultures were 9.1 years older than patients with negative fungal cultures in the nondiabetic group.
Conclusion: The results of this study provide the practitioner with a guide for treating pedal interdigital macerations. Because the likelihood of a tinea pedis infection is 40%, it seems prudent to treat these macerations with an antifungal agent. In regard to age, the results suggest that as nondiabetic patients age, the likelihood of an otherwise asymptomatic interdigital maceration yielding a positive fungal culture increases, and that diabetic patients may be susceptible to interdigital fungal infections at a younger age than those without diabetes. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 98(5): 353–356, 2008)
Charcot neuroarthropathy (CN), or the Charcot foot, is a complication usually associated with diabetes that frequently results in changes in foot shape and structure that have an effect on function and risk of ulceration. This study aimed to assess foot shape and asymmetry in CN using the Foot Posture Index (FPI-6).
Case notes of patients with CN seen in a diabetic orthotic clinic were reviewed, and available FPI-6 data were analyzed. A comparison group of patients with diabetes without CN was also identified. Groups were compared according to published ranges of foot posture and asymmetry using the Fisher exact test.
Twenty-seven patients with CN with 28 affected feet and a comparison group of 27 patients with diabetes only were identified. There was large variation in FPI-6 scores in affected (1 to 12) and unaffected (–1 to 10) feet. Mean scores for affected feet (6.82) and unaffected feet (5.05) differed significantly (P = .005). Considering all FPI-6 scores as positive numbers to indicate mean absolute difference between affected and unaffected feet, CN-affected feet differed by a mean of 3.00 points from unaffected feet. Patients in the CN group were less likely to have asymmetry in the normal range than the comparison group (P = .0146).
This study provides new data on foot shape after CN. Patients with CN have feet that are significantly asymmetrical, and the affected foot may be more pronated or supinated. Feet affected by CN are characterized by shape, which is more frequently outside the normal range. The FPI-6 may be suitable for more widespread use in assessment and outcome measurement.
Since 1992 it has been reported that patients with diabetes mellitus recover sensibility and obtain relief of pain from neuropathy symptoms by decompression of lower-extremity peripheral nerves. None of these reports included a series with more than 36 diabetic patients with lower-extremity nerves decompressed, and only recently has a single report appeared of the results of this approach in patients with nondiabetic neuropathy. No previous report has described a change in balance related to restoration of sensibility. A prospective study was conducted of 100 consecutive patients (60 with diabetes and 40 with idiopathic neuropathy) operated on by a single surgeon, other than the originator of this approach, and with the postoperative results reviewed by someone other than these two surgeons. Each patient had neurolysis of the peroneal nerve at the knee and the dorsum of the foot, and the tibial nerve released in the four medial ankle tunnels. After at least 1 year of follow-up, 87% of patients with preoperative numbness reported improved sensation, 92% with preoperative balance problems reported improved balance, and 86% whose pain level was 5 or greater on a visual analog scale from 0 (no pain) to 10 (the most severe pain) before surgery reported an improvement in pain. Decompression of compressed lower-extremity nerves improves sensation and decreases pain, and should be recommended for patients with neuropathy who have failed to improve with traditional medical treatment. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 95(5): 451–454, 2005)
This study sought to demonstrate the prevalence of foot conditions in older individuals and their association with chronic risk diseases such as diabetes mellitus, peripheral arterial disease, and arthritis, and to develop care plans to reduce complications from local foot problems and chronic diseases. One thousand individuals older than 65 years who were ambulatory and not institutionalized underwent a standardized and validated podogeriatric examination assessment protocol or index. Overall, 74.6% of all patients had a history of pain, 57.2% were receiving current care for diabetes mellitus, 22.9% indicated current care for peripheral vascular disease, 94.2% had onychodystrophy, 64.2% had one or more foot deformities, 64.0% demonstrated some loss of protective sensation, and 81.7% had one or more symptoms and signs of peripheral arterial insufficiency. These findings demonstrate that foot problems in the older population result from disease, disability, and deformity related to multiple chronic diseases as well as changes associated with repetitive use and trauma. Older people are at a high risk of developing foot-related disease and should receive continuing foot assessment, education, surveillance, and care. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 94(3): 293–304, 2004)
Background: Diabetes-related lower-extremity amputations are largely preventable. Eighty-five percent of amputations are preceded by a foot ulcer. Effective management of ulcers, which leads to healing, can prevent limb loss.
Methods: In a county hospital, we implemented a six-step approach to the diabetic limb at risk. We calculated the frequency and level of lower-extremity amputations for 12 months before and 12 months after implementation of the amputation prevention program. We also calculated the high-low amputation ratio for the years reviewed. The high-low amputation ratio is a quality measure for the success of amputation prevention measures and is calculated as the ratio of the number of high amputations (limb losses) over the number of low (partial foot) amputations.
Results: The frequency of total amputations increased from 24 in year 1 to 46 in year 2. However, the number of limb losses decreased from 7 to 2 (72%). The high-low amputation ratio decreased eightfold in 1 year, which serves as a marker for limb salvage success.
Conclusions: Improvement in care organization and multidisciplinary-centered protocols can substantially reduce limb losses. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(2): 101–104, 2010)
Throughout our medical training, we are taught how to manage patients who present with symptoms: perform a clinical examination, make a diagnosis, and develop a management plan. However, virtually no time is spent on teaching us how to manage patients who have no symptoms because they have lost the ability to feel pain, that is, patients with peripheral neuropathy. The lifetime incidence of foot ulceration in people with diabetes has been estimated to be as high as 25%, and a variety of contributory factors result in a foot being at risk for ulceration. Most important among these factors is peripheral neuropathy, or the loss of the ability to feel pain, temperature, or pressure sensation in the feet and lower legs. Up to 50% of older type 2 diabetic patients have evidence of sensory loss, putting them at risk for foot ulceration. If we are to succeed in reducing the high incidence of foot ulcers, regular screening for peripheral neuropathy is vital in all patients with diabetes. Those found to have any risk factors for foot ulceration require special education and more frequent review, particularly by podiatric physicians. The key message is, therefore, that neuropathic symptoms correlate poorly with sensory loss and that their absence must never be equated with lack of risk of foot ulceration. If we are to succeed in reducing the high incidence of foot ulceration and particularly recurrent ulceration, we must realize that with loss of pain there is also diminished motivation in the healing and prevention of injury. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(5): 349–352, 2010)
Does Footwear Affect Balance?
The Views and Experiences of People with Diabetes and Neuropathy Who Have Fallen
Despite falls being a major concern for people living with somatosensory deficit, little is known about the perceived impact of footwear and footwear features on balance. Clinical relevance is increased given that therapeutic footwear is often provided to people with diabetes to reduce foot ulcer risk. This qualitative study aims to explore the experiences and views of people with diabetes and neuropathy who have recently fallen to understand whether footwear type is perceived to affect balance or contribute to falling.
Sixteen individuals (13 men and three women aged 44–83 years) were purposively sampled from a larger population of potential participants. Audio-recorded, in-depth, semistructured interviews were conducted in participant homes or at a place preferable to them. Once transcribed verbatim, the data were themed, charted, and interpreted using a framework approach.
Although most participants did not believe that the footwear in which they fell contributed to their fall, most revealed how footwear choice influenced their balance confidence to undertake daily tasks. Most found their therapeutic footwear “difficult” to walk in, “heavy, or “slippery bottomed.” Design recommendations for enhanced balance included a close fit with tight fastening, lightweight, substantial tread, and a firm, molded sole/insole. Complying with these recommendations, the hiking sandal was believed to be the most stable and safe shoe and was frequently worn as a walking aid to reduce fear of falling and boost confidence.
People with diabetic neuropathy have disease-specific needs and concerns relating to how footwear affects balance. Engaging with patients to address those needs and concerns is likely to improve the feasibility and acceptability of therapeutic footwear to reduce foot ulcer risk and boost balance confidence. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 103(6): 508–515, 2013)