Diabetic Foot Ulcer

What is a diabetic foot ulcer?

A diabetic foot ulcer is an open wound or sore that occurs as a result of poorly controlled diabetes. Diabetic foot ulcers are quite common, and 1 in every 10 people with diabetes end up having foot ulcers. Even small things like a new pair of shoes or minor injuries to the foot can lead to the development of foot ulcers.

Treatment

Diagnosis

To diagnose the seriousness of the diabetic foot ulcer, your doctor may conduct a series of examinations. The doctor may want to know about your medical history and will conduct a physical examination to look for scratches, cuts and blisters. The doctor may feel your pulse to evaluate the blood flow to your feet. In addition to the physical exam, your doctor may also recommend X-rays to look for any misalignments in the feet due to decreased bone mass. MRI scans may also be conducted to get an idea about the extent of damage caused by the ulcer and if signs of any infection are seen, blood tests may be recommended.

Treatment

Debridement is a procedure to treat wounds in the skin. In this procedure, a sharp tool or a scalpel is used to remove the dead tissue or infected skin tissues from the ulcerated foot. After the procedure, the wound is covered with a sterile bandage and the bandage is replaced daily. Ointments can also be used to hasten the healing process.

What is the surgical treatment for diabetic foot ulcer?

The most widely performed vascular surgery for the purpose is atherectomy followed by balloon angioplasty. Atherectomy is a surgical procedure that is performed to make the arteries wider. Widening of the arteries facilitates the proper supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the wound so that optimal healing can be achieved. In Atherectomy, the doctor uses laser energy or a rotating blade to remove the plaque, calcium and fat layers from the artery. This makes the artery wider and improves blood circulation. Many a time, Atherectomy is followed by another procedure called balloon angioplasty. In Balloon Angioplasty, the doctor inserts a stent in the artery to hold it open. This ensures continuous and proper flow of blood through the artery.

What are the different stages of a diabetic foot ulcer?

Stage 0: Skin remains intact
Stage 1: Development of a minor or superficial ulcer
Stage 2: Deep ulcer reaching up to the bone or joint
Stage 3: Formation of an abscess in the ulcer
Stage 4: Death of tissues in the forefoot
Stage 5: Gangrene spreading to the complete foot