Mortality Rates and Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Is it Time to Communicate Mortality Risk to Patients with Diabetic Foot Ulceration?
Five-year mortality rates after new-onset diabetic ulceration have been reported between 43% and 55% and up to 74% for patients with lower-extremity amputation. These rates are higher than those for several types of cancer including prostate, breast, colon, and Hodgkin’s disease. These alarmingly high 5-year mortality rates should be addressed more aggressively by patients and providers alike. Cardiovascular diseases represent the major causal factor, and early preventive interventions to improve life expectancy in this most vulnerable patient cohort are essential. New-onset diabetic foot ulcers should be considered a marker for significantly increased mortality and should be aggressively managed locally, systemically, and psychologically. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 98(6): 489–493, 2008)
Retrospective and prospective studies have shown that elevated plantar pressure is a causative factor in the development of many plantar ulcers in diabetic patients and that ulceration is often a precursor of lower-extremity amputation. Herein, we review the evidence that relieving areas of elevated plantar pressure (off-loading) can prevent and heal plantar ulceration.
There is no consensus in the literature concerning the role of off-loading through footwear in the primary or secondary prevention of ulcers. This is likely due to the diversity of intervention and control conditions tested, the lack of information about off-loading efficacy of the footwear used, and the absence of a target pressure threshold for off-loading. Uncomplicated plantar ulcers should heal in 6 to 8 weeks with adequate off-loading. Total-contact casts and other nonremovable devices are most effective because they eliminate the problem of nonadherence to recommendations for using a removable device. Conventional or standard therapeutic footwear is not effective in ulcer healing. Recent US and European surveys show that there is a large discrepancy between guidelines and clinical practice in off-loading diabetic foot ulcers. Many clinics continue to use methods that are known to be ineffective or that have not been proved to be effective while ignoring methods that have demonstrated efficacy.
A variety of strategies are proposed to address this situation, notably the adoption and implementation of recently established international guidelines, which are evidence based and specific, by professional societies in the United States and Europe. Such an approach would improve the often poor current expectations for healing diabetic plantar ulcers. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(5): 360–368, 2010)
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.
Both vascular surgeons and podiatric physicians care for patients with diabetic foot ulcerations (DFUs), one of today's most challenging health-care populations in the United States. The prevalence of DFUs has steadily increased, along with the rising costs associated with care. Because of the numerous comorbidities affecting these patients, it is necessary to take a multidisciplinary approach in the management of these patients. Such efforts, primarily led by podiatric physicians and vascular surgeons, have been shown to effectively decrease major limb loss. Establishing an interprofessional partnership between vascular surgery and podiatric medicine can lead to an improvement in the delivery of care and outcomes of this vulnerable patient population.
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)
An updated selection of high-quality Internet resources related to wound and ulcer care is presented. Of potential use to the podiatric medical practitioner, educator, resident, and student, some Web sites that cover hyperbaric medicine, antibiotic use, and wound and ulcer prevention are also included. These Web sites have been evaluated on the basis of their potential to enhance the practice of podiatric medicine, in addition to contributing to the educational process. Readers who require a quick reference source to wound and ulcer care may find this report useful. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 96(3): 264–268, 2006)
Surgical intervention for chronic deformities and ulcerations has become an important component in the management of patients with diabetes mellitus. Such patients are no longer relegated to wearing cumbersome braces or footwear for deformities that might otherwise be easily corrected. Although surgical intervention in these often high-risk individuals is not without risk, the outcomes are fairly predictable when patients are properly selected and evaluated. In this brief review, we discuss the rationale and indications for diabetic foot surgery, focusing on the surgical decompression of deformities that frequently lead to foot ulcers. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(5): 369–384, 2010)
Motivational Interviewing by Podiatric Physicians
A Method for Improving Patient Self-care of the Diabetic Foot
Foot ulceration and lower-extremity amputation are devastating end-stage complications of diabetes. Despite agreement that diabetic foot self-care is a key factor in prevention of ulcers and amputation, there has only been limited success in influencing these behaviors among patients with diabetes. While most efforts have focused on increasing patient knowledge, knowledge and behavior are poorly correlated. Knowledge is necessary but rarely sufficient for behavior change. A key determinant to adherence to self-care behavior is clinician counseling style. Podiatrists are the ideal providers to engage in a brief behavioral intervention with a patient. Motivational interviewing is a well-accepted, evidence-based teachable approach that enhances self-efficacy and increases intrinsic motivation for change and adherence to treatment. This article summarizes some key strategies that can be employed by podiatrists to improve foot self-care. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 101(1): 78–84, 2011)
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)
Wound repair and regeneration is a highly complex combination of matrix destruction and reorganization. Although major hurdles remain, advances during the past generation have improved the clinician’s armamentarium in the medical and surgical management of this problem. The purpose of this article is to review the current literature regarding the pragmatic use of three of the most commonly used advanced therapies: bioengineered tissue, negative-pressure wound therapy, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, with a focus on the near-term future of wound healing, including stem cell therapy. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(5): 385–394, 2010)