Diabetic foot infections are a common cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, and successful treatment often requires an aggressive and prolonged approach. Recent work has elucidated the importance of appropriate therapy for a given severity of diabetic foot infection, and highlighted the ongoing risk such patients have for subsequent invasive life-threatening infection should diabetic foot ulcers fail to heal. The authors describe the case of a man with diabetes who had prolonged, delayed healing of a diabetic foot ulcer. The ulcer subsequently became infected by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The infection was treated conservatively with oral therapy and minimal debridement. Several months later, he experienced MRSA bloodstream infection and complicating endocarditis. The case highlights the ongoing risk faced by patients when diabetic foot ulcers do not heal promptly, and emphasizes the need for aggressive therapy to promote rapid healing and eradication of MRSA.
Background: This study was undertaken to assess the benefits of negative-pressure wound therapy (NPWT) versus traditional wound therapies in reducing the incidence of lower-extremity amputations in patients with diabetic foot ulcers.
Methods: Administrative claims data for patients with diabetic foot ulcers from commercial payers (n = 3,524) and Medicare (n = 12,795) were retrospectively analyzed. Patients were divided into NPWT and control/traditional therapy groups on the basis of administrative codes. Risk-adjustment procedures were then performed to match patient risk categories (through total treatment costs) and wound severities (through debridement depth).
Results: The incidence of amputations in the NPWT groups was lower than that in the control groups. For the cost-based risk-adjustment analysis, amputation incidences with NPWT versus traditional therapy were 35% lower in the Medicare sample (10.8% versus 16.6%; P = .0077) and 34% lower in the commercial payer sample (14.1% versus 21.4%; P = .0951). Whereas overall amputation rates increased progressively with increasing wound debridement depth in both control groups, the same increasing trend did not occur in the NPWT groups.
Conclusions: Patients with diabetic foot ulcers in the Medicare sample treated with NPWT had a lower incidence of amputations than those undergoing traditional wound therapy; this finding was evident in wounds of varying depth in both populations studied. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 97(5): 351–359, 2007)
Wound debridement, when systematically performed, may be as important as off-loading in reducing the prevalence of chronic inflammatory by-products in a wound and thus in converting a chronic wound into an acute one. Although it has been suggested that aggressive surgical debridement of wounds may be beneficial, there have been few, if any, technical descriptions of this aspect of therapy. It is therefore the purpose of this article to describe the general principles, process, and technique of outpatient surgical debridement of noninfected, nonischemic neuropathic diabetic foot wounds performed at the authors’ institutions. The authors hope to foster further discussion leading to improvement in the process and the prevalence of such debridement. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 92(7): 402-404, 2002)
Diabetic foot osteomyelitis is common and causes substantial morbidity, including major amputations, yet the optimal treatment approach is unclear. We evaluated an approach to limb salvage that combines early surgical debridement or limited amputation with antimicrobial therapy.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients treated between May 1, 2005, and May 31, 2007. The primary end point was cure, defined as not requiring further treatment for osteomyelitis of the affected limb. The secondary end point was limb salvage, defined as not requiring a below-the-knee amputation or a more proximal amputation.
Fifty patients with diabetic foot osteomyelitis met the study criteria. Initial surgical management included local amputation in 43 patients (86%) and debridement without amputation in seven (14%). Most infections (n = 30; 60%) were polymicrobial, and Staphylococcus aureus was the most common pathogen (n = 23; 46%). Parenteral antibiotics were used in 45 patients (90%). Patients who had pathologic evidence of osteomyelitis at the surgical margin received therapy for a median of 43 days (interquartile range [IQR], 36–56 days), whereas those without evidence of residual osteomyelitis received therapy for a median of 19 days (IQR, 13–40 days). Overall, 32 patients (64%) were considered cured after a median follow-up of 26 months (IQR, 12–38 months). Fifteen of 18 patients (83%) who failed initial therapy were treated again with limb-sparing surgery. Limb salvage was achieved in 47 patients (94%), with only three patients (6%) requiring below-the-knee amputation.
In patients with diabetic foot osteomyelitis, surgical debridement or limited amputation plus antimicrobial therapy is effective at achieving clinical cure and limb salvage. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 102(4): 273–277, 2012)
Diabetic foot disease frequently leads to substantial long-term complications, imposing a huge socioeconomic burden on available resources and health-care systems. Peripheral neuropathy, repetitive trauma, and peripheral vascular disease are common underlying pathways that lead to skin breakdown, often setting the stage for limb-threatening infection. Individuals with diabetes presenting with foot infection warrant optimal surgical management to affect limb salvage and prevent amputation; aggressive short-term and meticulous long-term care plans are required. In addition, the initial surgical intervention or series of interventions must be coupled with appropriate systemic metabolic management as part of an integrated, multidisciplinary team. Such teams typically include multiple medical, surgical, and nursing specialties across a variety of public and private health-care systems. This article presents a stepwise approach to the diagnosis and treatment of diabetic foot infections with emphasis on the appropriate use of surgical interventions and includes the following key elements: incision, wound investigation, debridement, wound irrigation and lavage, and definitive wound closure. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(5): 401–405, 2010)
We aimed to evaluate surrogate markers commonly used in the literature for diabetic foot osteomyelitis remission after initial treatment for diabetic foot infections (DFIs).
Thirty-five patients with DFIs were prospectively enrolled and followed for 12 months. Osteomyelitis was determined from bone culture and histologic analysis initially and for recurrence. Fisher exact and χ2 tests were used for dichotomous variables and Student t and Mann-Whitney U tests for continuous variables (α = .05).
Twenty-four patients were diagnosed as having osteomyelitis and 11 as having soft-tissue infections. Four patients (16.7%) with osteomyelitis had reinfection based on bone biopsy. The success of osteomyelitis treatment varied based on the surrogate marker used to define remission: osteomyelitis infection (16.7%), failed wound healing (8.3%), reulceration (20.8%), readmission (16.7%), amputation (12.5%). There was no difference in outcomes among patients who were initially diagnosed as having osteomyelitis versus soft-tissue infections. There were no differences in osteomyelitis reinfection (16.7% versus 45.5%; P = .07), wounds that failed to heal (8.3% versus 9.1%; P = .94), reulceration (20.8% versus 27.3%; P = .67), readmission for DFIs at the same site (16.7% versus 36.4%; P = .20), amputation at the same site after discharge (12.5% versus 36.4%; P = .10). Osteomyelitis at the index site based on bone biopsy indicated that failed therapy was 16.7%. Indirect markers demonstrated a failure rate of 8.3% to 20.8%.
Most osteomyelitis markers were similar to markers in soft-tissue infection. Commonly reported surrogate markers were not shown to be specific to identify patients who failed osteomyelitis treatment compared with patients with soft-tissue infections. Given this, these surrogate markers are not reliable for use in practice to identify osteomyelitis treatment failure.
Nerve entrapment, common in diabetes, is considered an associated phenomenon without large consequence in the development of diabetes complications such as ulceration, infection, amputation, and early mortality. This prospective analysis, with controls, of the ulcer recurrence rate after operative nerve decompression (ND) offers an objective perspective on the possibility of frequent occult nerve entrapment in the diabetic foot complication cascade.
A multicenter cohort of 42 patients with diabetic sensorimotor polyneuropathy, failed pharmacologic pain control, palpable pulses, and at least one positive Tinel's nerve percussion sign was treated with unilateral multiple lower-leg external neurolyses for the indication of pain. All of the patients had healed at least one previous ipsilateral plantar diabetic foot ulceration (DFU). This group was retrospectively evaluated a minimum of 12 months after operative ND and again 3 years later. The recurrence risk of ipsilateral DFU in that period was prospectively analyzed and compared with new ulcer occurrence in the contralateral intact, nonoperated control legs.
Operated legs developed two ulcer recurrences (4.8%), and nine contralateral control legs developed ulcers (21.4%), requiring three amputations. Ulcer risk is 1.6% per patient per year in ND legs and 7% in nonoperated control legs (P = .048).
Adding operative ND at lower-leg fibro-osseous tunnels to standard postulcer treatment resulted in a significantly diminished rate of subsequent DFU in neuropathic high-risk feet. This is prospective, objective evidence that ND can provide valuable ongoing protection from DFU recurrence, even years after primary ulcer healing.
We sought to develop a consensus statement for the use of off-loading in the management of diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs).
A literature search of PubMed for evidence regarding off-loading of DFUs was initially conducted, followed by a meeting of authors on March 15, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to draft consensus statements and recommendations using the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation) approach to assess quality of evidence and develop strength of recommendations for each consensus statement.
Evidence is clear that adequate off-loading increases the likelihood of DFU healing and that increased clinician use of effective off-loading is necessary. Recommendations are included to guide clinicians on the optimal use of off-loading based on an initial comprehensive patient/wound assessment and the necessity to improve patient adherence with off-loading devices.
The likelihood of DFU healing is increased with off-loading adherence, and, current evidence favors the use of nonremovable casts or fixed ankle walking braces as optimum off-loading modalities. There currently exists a gap between what the evidence supports regarding the efficacy of DFU off-loading and what is performed in clinical practice despite expert consensus on the standard of care.
We sought to determine patient and ulcer characteristics that predict wound healing in patients living with diabetes.
A prospective observational study was conducted on 99 patients presenting with diabetic foot ulceration. Patient and ulcer characteristics were recorded. Patients were followed up for a maximum of 1 year.
After 1 year of follow-up, ulcer characteristics were more predictive of ulcer healing than were patient characteristics. Seventy-seven percent of ulcers had healed and 23% had not healed. Independent predictors of nonhealing were ulcer stage (P = .003), presence of biofilm (P = .020), and ulcer depth (P = .028). Although this study demonstrated that the baseline hemoglobin A1c reading at the start of the study was not a significant predictor of foot ulcer outcome (P = .603, resolved versus amputated), on further statistical analyses, when hemoglobin A1c was compared with the time taken for complete ulcer healing (n = 77), it proved to be significant (P = .009).
The factors influencing healing are ulcer stage, presence of biofilm, and ulcer depth. These findings have important implications for clinical practice, especially in an outpatient setting. Prediction of outcome may be helpful for health-care professionals in individualizing and optimizing clinical assessment and management of patients. Identification of determinants of outcome could result in improved health outcomes, improved quality of life, and fewer diabetes-related foot complications.
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)