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Neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers – evidence-to-practice

Authors Ako A, Ebah L, Mbako A

Received 9 March 2011

Accepted for publication 13 December 2011

Published 10 February 2012 Volume 2012:5 Pages 129—134


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Video abstract presented by Agbor Ndip

Views: 851

Agbor Ndip1–3, Leonard Ebah3,4, Aloysius Mbako5

1Department of Diabetes and Medicine, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Central Manchester Foundation Trust, UK; 2Department of Medicine, Royal Bolton Hospital, Bolton, UK; 3Cardiovascular Research Group, School of Biomedicine, University of Manchester, UK; 4Department of Renal Medicine, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Central Manchester Foundation Trust, UK; 5Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Wales, UK

Abstract: Foot ulcers and their attendant complications are disquietingly high in people with diabetes, a majority of whom have underlying neuropathy. This review examines the evidence base underpinning the prevention and management of neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers in order to inform best clinical practice. Since it may be impractical to ask patients not to weight-bear at all, relief of pressure through the use of offloading casting devices remains the mainstay for management of neuropathic ulcers, whilst provision of appropriate footwear is essential in ulcer prevention. Simple non-surgical debridement and application of hydrogels are both effective in preparing the wound bed for healthy granulation and therefore enhancing healing. Initial empirical antibiotic therapy for infected ulcers should cover the most common bacterial flora. There is limited evidence supporting the use of adjunctive therapies such as hyperbaric oxygen and cytokines or growth factors. In selected cases, recombinant human platelet-derived growth factor has been shown to enhance healing; however, its widespread use cannot be advised due to the availability of more cost-effective approaches. While patient education may be beneficial, the evidence base remains thin and conflicting. In conclusion, best management of foot ulcers is achieved by what is taken out of the foot (pressure, callus, infection, and slough) rather than what is put on the foot (adjuvant treatment).

Keywords: diabetic foot ulcers, neuropathic foot ulcers, foot ulcers

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