Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) are a major burden to patients and to the health-care systems of many countries. To prevent or treat ulcers more effectively, predictive biomarkers are needed. We examined temperature as a biomarker and as a causative factor in ulcer development.
Thirty-seven individuals with diabetes were enrolled in this observational case-control study: nine with diabetic neuropathy and ulcer history (DFU), 14 with diabetic neuropathy (DN), and 14 nonneuropathic control participants (DC). Resting barefoot plantar temperatures were recorded using an infrared thermal camera. Mean temperatures were determined in four anatomical regions—hallux and medial, central, and lateral forefoot—and separate linear models with specified contrasts among the DFU, DN, and DC groups were set to reveal mean differences for each foot region while controlling for group characteristics.
The mean temperature reading in each foot region was higher than 30.0°C in the DFU and DN groups and lower than 30.0°C in the DC group. Mean differences were greatest between the DFU and DC groups, ranging from 3.2°C in the medial forefoot to 4.9°C in the hallux.
Increased plantar temperatures in individuals with a history of ulcers may include acute temperature increases from plantar stresses, chronic inflammation from prolonged stresses, and impairment in temperature regulation from autonomic neuropathy. Diabetic foot temperatures, particularly in patients with previous ulcers, may easily reach hazard thresholds indicated by previous pressure ulcer studies. The results necessitate further exploration of temperature in the diabetic foot and how it may contribute to ulceration.
Surgical Treatment of Pressure Ulcers of the Heel in Skilled Nursing Facilities
A 12-Year Retrospective Study of 57 Patients
Background: Chronic nonhealing pressure ulcers of the heel in nursing homes are frequent occurrences among bedridden patients with lower-extremity contractures of varying degrees of severity. Conservative local wound care for these patients can be time consuming, ineffective, costly, and may only delay an eventual major leg amputation. This study evaluates the efficacy of limb salvage surgical procedures, partial calcanectomy, total calcanectomy, and excision of the entire calcaneus and talus, for heel ulcers.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 57 nursing home residents who had chronic infected nonhealing pressure ulcers of the heel that we had treated over 12 years. Forty-three patients underwent partial calcanectomy, nine underwent total calcanectomy, and five underwent excision of the entire calcaneus and talus. Average postoperative follow-up was 15 months. Also included in this study are representative surgical cases.
Results: Forty-three patients completed follow-up. Complete healing occurred in 25 patients (58%). Failure to resolve the heel ulcer owing to persistent infection, or recurrence was seen in 18 patients (42%) who eventually had a below-the-knee or above-the-knee amputation. All of the patients with heel pressure ulcers were found to have lower-extremity contractures.
Conclusions: In the nonambulatory contracted patient with a heel ulcer, partial or total calcanectomy or excision of the entire calcaneus and talus offer a viable alternative not only for resolution of infection but also for prevention of limb loss. An aggressive plan must also be instituted to address the lower-extremity contractures in order to prevent recurrence. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 101(2): 167–175, 2011)
Dosing Activity and Return to Preulcer Function in Diabetes-Related Foot Ulcer Remission
Patient Recommendations and Guidance from the Limb Preservation Consortium at USC and the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center
Diabetes-related foot ulcers are a leading cause of global morbidity, mortality, and health-care costs. People with a history of foot ulcers have a diminished quality of life attributed to limited walking and mobility. One of the largest concerns is ulceration recurrence. Approximately 40% of patients with ulcerations will have a recurrent ulcer in the year after healing, and most occur in the first 3 months after wound healing. Hence, this period after ulceration is called “remission” due to this risk of reulceration. Promoting and fostering mobility is an integral part of everyday life and is important for maintaining good physical health and health-related quality of life for all people living with diabetes. In this short perspective, we provide recommendations on how to safely increase walking activity and facilitate appropriate off-loading and monitoring in people with a recently healed foot ulcer, foot reconstruction, or partial foot amputation. Interventions include monitored activity training, dosed out in steadily increasing increments and coupled with daily skin temperature monitoring, which can identify dangerous “hotspots” prone to recurrence. By understanding areas at risk, patients are empowered to maximize ulcer-free days and to enable an improved quality of life. This perspective outlines a unified strategy to treat patients in the remission period after ulceration and aims to provide clinicians with appropriate patient recommendations based on best available evidence and expert opinion to educate their patients to ensure a safe transition to footwear and return to activity.
Use of nerve decompression in diabetic sensorimotor polyneuropathy is a controversial treatment characterized as being of unknown scientific effectiveness owing to lack of level I scientific studies.
Herein, long-term follow-up data have been assembled on 65 diabetic patients with 75 legs having previous neuropathic foot ulcer and subsequent operative decompression of the common peroneal and tibial nerve branches in the anatomical fibro-osseous tunnels.
The cohort’s previously reported low recurrence risk of less than 5% annually at a mean of 2.49 years of follow-up has persisted for an additional 3 years, and cumulative risk is now 2.6% per patient-year. Nine of 75 operated legs (12%) have developed an ulcer in 4,218 months (351 patient-years) of follow-up. Of the 53 contralateral legs without decompression, 16 (30%) have ulcerated, of which three have undergone an amputation. Fifty-nine percent of patients are known to be alive with intact feet a mean of 60 months after decompression.
The prospective, objective, statistically significant finding of a large, long-term diminution of diabetic foot ulcer recurrence risk after operative nerve decompression compares very favorably with the historical literature and the contralateral legs of this cohort, which had no decompression. This finding invites prospective randomized controlled studies for validation testing and reconsideration of the frequency and contribution of unrecognized nerve entrapments in diabetic sensorimotor polyneuropathy and diabetic foot complications. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 103(5): 380–386, 2013)
The number of people with diabetes is expected to reach 592 million in the year 2035. Diabetic foot lesions are responsible for more hospitalizations than any other complication of diabetes. The aims of this study were to examine for the first time a new biocompatible and biodegradable tridimensional collagen-based matrix, GBT013, in humans for diabetic foot ulcer wound healing and to evaluate its ease of use to better define a protocol for a future clinical trial. Seven adult patients with a diabetic foot ulcer of grade 1A to 3D (University of Texas Diabetic Wound Classification) were treated using GBT013, a new collagen-based advance dressing and were monitored in two specialized foot care units for a maximum of 9 weeks. Five of seven wounds achieved complete healing in 4 to 7 weeks. Nonhealed ulcers showed a significant reduction of the wound surface (>44%). GBT013 was well tolerated and displayed positive wound healing outcomes as a new treatment strategy of chronic foot ulcers in diabetic patients.
In a retrospective review of 233 cases of diabetic foot ulceration preceded by minor trauma, 192 ulcerations exhibited focal pressure keratosis as the preceding traumatic event. The frequency of outpatient visits and other foot care interventions were correlated with the occurrence and severity of ulceration. Patients seen more frequently in an outpatient foot clinic had less severe ulcers and were less likely to undergo surgical treatment than those with less frequent visits. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 91(6): 275-279, 2001)
Background: We evaluated the cost of treating neuroischemic ulcers of the lower extremity in patients with peripheral artery disease by using medical and hospital claims records submitted for reimbursement to payers (private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid).
Methods: Adjudicated claims and remittance data on claims that include submitted charges, line items paid by insurers directly to providers and patient payments of copays, deductibles and co-insurance were used. Eligible patients from a commercial database containing more than 60% of US patients with health insurance were analyzed. Patient selection, performed using International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) codes, yielded a study population of 42,837 unique anonymized patients.
Results: Using the metric of “submitted charges” to overcome differences in levels of reimbursement across insurance payers and Medicare/Medicaid, we identified 34,348 patients with ulcers with an average treatment cost of $94,100 per patient ($41,800 annualized) The costliest ulcer subtype was nonpressure ulcer of the heel/midfoot among 13,184 patients with $121,400 per patient ($53,900 annualized), 29% higher than across all ulcer types. The subset of 22,281 ulcer patients who also had a surgical procedure incurred costs of $121,000 per patient ($53,800 annualized). The costliest surgical codes were complications of vascular prosthetic devices, implants, grafts among 6444 patients with $146,900 per patient ($65,300 annualized). The combination of most expensive ulcer and most expensive surgery yielded a cohort of 2355 patients with the highest average cost of $177,400 per patient ($78,800 annualized).
Conclusions: The resource burden for management of neuroischemic ulcers of the lower extremity in patients with peripheral artery disease is substantial. Mitigating this burden may help reduce significant resource utilization.
Studies have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of dehydrated human amnion chorion membrane (dHACM) in treating recalcitrant diabetic foot ulcers. A literature search was performed to review the data collected from the use of dHACM allografts. Two products were explicitly named in these publications, EpiFix and AmnioBand Membrane. Relevant results included the healing rate, number of wounds healed, and number of grafts used. Data had supported the potential of lowering the overall cost to manage a wound despite a relatively higher cost per dressing. However, discrepancy was observed in the rate of healing between several of the studies. Nonetheless, dHACM had demonstrated improvement in healing of recalcitrant diabetic foot ulcers compared to standard of care alone. These results provide grounds for more inclusive research on dHACM in the future.
Following a critique of the literature concerning two-dimensional and three-dimensional measurement of ulcers, the authors describe an interrater and intrarater reliability study on linear measurement of an ulcer. Analysis of the results infers that neither method is reliable.
The clinical diagnosis of osteomyelitis is difficult because of neuropathy, vascular disease, and immunodeficiency; also, with no established consensus on the diagnosis of foot osteomyelitis, the reported efficacy of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in detecting osteomyelitis and distinguishing it from reactive bone marrow edema is unclear. Herein, we describe a retrospective study on the efficacy of MRI for decision-making accuracy in diagnosing osteomyelitis in diabetic foot ulcers.
Twelve diabetic patients with infected foot ulcers underwent preoperative MRI between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2011. The findings were compared with the histopathologic features of 67 parts of 45 resected bones, the cut ends of which were also histopathologically evaluated.
Osteomyelitis was disclosed by MRI and histopathologically confirmed in 30 parts. In contrast, bone marrow edema diagnosed by MRI in 29 parts was confirmed in 23; the other six parts displayed osteomyelitis. Among 17 resected bones, 13 cut ends displayed bone marrow edema and four were normal. All of the wounds healed uneventfully.
In the diagnosis of diabetic foot ulcers, osteomyelitis is often reliably distinguished from reactive bone marrow edema, except in special cases.