Addressing pressure reduction in the treatment of diabetic foot wounds is a critical component of therapy. The total-contact cast has proven to be the gold standard of treatment because of its ability to reduce pressure and facilitate patient adherence to the off-loading regimen. Removable cast walkers have proven to be as effective as total-contact casts in pressure reduction, but this has not translated into equivalent time to healing. A simple technique to convert the removable cast walker into a device that is not as easily detached from the lower extremity, thereby encouraging the use of this device over a 24-hour period, is presented in this article. The procedure involves wrapping the cast walker with cohesive bandage or plaster of Paris. In the authors’ opinion, this technique addresses many of the disadvantages of the total-contact cast, resulting in an adequate compromise in this aspect of care. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 92(7): 405-408, 2002)
Negative-Pressure Wound Therapy and Diabetic Foot Amputations
A Retrospective Study of Payer Claims Data
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)
Remote ischemic conditioning involves the use of a blood pressure cuff or similar device to induce brief (3–5 min) episodes of limb ischemia. This, in turn, seems to activate a group of distress signals that has shown the potential ability to improve healing of the heart muscle and other organ systems. Until recently, this has not been tested in people with diabetic foot ulcers. The purpose of this review was to provide background on remote ischemic conditioning and recent data to potentially support its use as an adjunct to healing diabetic foot ulcers and other types of tissue loss. We believe that this inexpensive therapy has the potential to be deployed and incorporated into a variety of other therapies to prime patients for healing and to reduce morbidity in patients with this common, complex, and costly complication.
It is well known that interleukin-18 (IL-18) plays a key role in the inflammatory process. However, there are limited data on the role IL-18 plays with diabetic foot ulcers, an acute and complex inflammatory situation. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate serum IL-18 levels of diabetic patients with foot ulcers.
Twenty diabetic patients with acute foot ulcers, 21 diabetic patients without a history of foot ulcers, and 21 healthy volunteers were enrolled in our study. Circulating levels of IL-18, and other biochemical markers are parameters of inflammation and were measured in all three groups.
Diabetic patients both with and without foot ulcers had high IL-18 concentrations (P < 0.001 and P = 0.020, respectively) when compared with the nondiabetic volunteers. Those with foot ulcers had higher levels of IL-18 level (P < 0.001), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) (P = 0.001), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) (P < 0.001) than those without foot ulcers.
We found that serum IL-18 concentrations were elevated in diabetic patients with acute diabetic foot ulcers. However, these findings do not indicate whether the IL-18 elevation is a cause or a result of the diabetic foot ulceration. Further studies are needed to show the role of IL-18 in the course of these ulcers.
In 2007, the treatment of diabetes and its complications in the United States generated at least $116 billion in direct costs; at least 33% of these costs were linked to the treatment of foot ulcers. Although the team approach to diabetic foot problems is effective in preventing lower-extremity amputations, the costs associated with implementing a diabetic-foot–care team are not well understood. An analysis of these costs provides the basis for this report.
Diabetic foot problems impose a major economic burden, and costs increase disproportionately to the severity of the condition. Compared with diabetic patients without foot ulcers, the cost of care for those with foot ulcers is 5.4 times higher in the year after the first ulcer episode and 2.8 times higher in the second year. Costs for treating the highest-grade ulcers are 8 times higher than are those for treating low-grade ulcers. Patients with diabetic foot ulcers require more frequent emergency department visits and are more commonly admitted to the hospital, requiring longer lengths of stay. Implementation of the team approach to manage diabetic foot ulcers in a given region or health-care system has been reported to reduce long-term amputation rates 62% to 82%. Limb salvage efforts may include aggressive therapy such as revascularization procedures and advanced wound-healing modalities. Although these procedures are costly, the team approach gradually leads to improved screening and prevention programs and earlier interventions and, thus, seems to reduce long-term costs.
To date, aggressive limb preservation management for patients with diabetic foot ulcers has not usually been paired with adequate reimbursement. It is essential to direct efforts in patient-caregiver education to allow early recognition and management of all diabetic foot problems and to build integrated pathways of care that facilitate timely access to limb salvage procedures. Increasing evidence suggests that the costs of implementing diabetic foot teams can be offset in the long term by improved access to care and reductions in foot complications and amputation rates. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(5): 335–341, 2010)
One of the challenges after central ray resection is a large soft-tissue defect. Many authors have reported the use of external fixators as a means of narrowing the forefoot. Ours is the first article to report an interesting case using widely available and inexpensive tools such as Kirschner and cerclage wires as an external fixation means of narrowing the forefoot after a complete second-ray resection and extensive soft-tissue debridement for a severe diabetic foot ulcer. This simple yet inexpensive technique is easy to perform for any foot and ankle surgeon at any hospital or surgical center.