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Foot ulcers in the diabetic patient, prevention and treatment

Authors Stephanie C Wu, Vickie R Driver, James S Wrobel, David G Armstrong

Published 15 March 2007 Volume 2007:3(1) Pages 65—76


Stephanie C Wu1, Vickie R Driver1, James S Wrobel2, David G Armstrong2

1Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research,William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, and National Center of Limb Salvage, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Chicago, IL, USA; 2Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research, Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA

Abstract: Lower extremity complications in persons with diabetes have become an increasingly significant public health concern in both the developed and developing world. These complications, beginning with neuropathy and subsequent diabetic foot wounds frequently lead to infection and lower extremity amputation even in the absence of critical limb ischemia. In order to diminish the detrimental consequences associated with diabetic foot ulcers, a common-sense-based treatment approach must be implemented. Many of the etiological factors contributing to the formation of diabetic foot ulceration may be identified using simple, inexpensive equipment in a clinical setting. Prevention of diabetic foot ulcers can be accomplished in a primary care setting with a brief history and screening for loss of protective sensation via the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament. Specialist clinics may quantify neuropathy, plantar foot pressure, and assess vascular status with Doppler ultrasound and ankle-brachial blood pressure indices. These measurements, in conjunction with other findings from the history and physical examination, may enable clinicians to stratify patients based on risk and help determine the type of intervention. Other effective clinical interventions may include patient education, optimizing glycemic control, smoking cessation, and diligent foot care. Recent technological advanced combined with better understanding of the wound healing process have resulted in a myriad of advanced wound healing modalities in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. However, it is imperative to remember the fundamental basics in the healing of diabetic foot ulcers: adequate perfusion, debridement, infection control, and pressure mitigation. Early recognition of the etiological factors along with prompt management of diabetic foot ulcers is essential for successful outcome.

Keywords: diabetes, ulcer, prevention, infection, amputation

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