JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Optimal treatment of infected diabetic foot ulcers

Edward B Jude, Philip F Unsworth
Drugs & Aging 2004, 21 (13): 833-50
15493949
Foot ulceration can lead to devastating consequences in diabetic patients. They are not only associated with increased morbidity but also mortality. Foot infections result as a consequence of foot ulceration, which can occasionally lead to deep tissue infections and osteomyelitis; both of which can result in loss of limb. To prevent amputations prompt diagnosis and treatment is required. Understanding the pathology of the diabetic foot will help in the planning of appropriate investigations and treatment. Clinical diagnosis of infection is based on the presence of discharge from the ulcer, cellulitis, warmth and signs of toxicity; though the latter is uncommon. Deep tissue samples from the ulcer and/or blood cultures should be taken before, but without delaying the start of antibacterial treatment in limb and life-threatening infections. In milder infections wound sampling may direct appropriate antibacterial treatment. Staphylococcus aureus, followed by streptococci are the most common organisms causing infection and antibacterial treatment should be targeted against these organisms in mild infection possibly with monotherapy. But in serious infections combination therapy is required because these are usually caused by multiple organisms including anaerobes. Drug-resistant organisms are becoming more prevalent and methicillin-resistant infections can be treated effectively with a number of oral antibacterials either as monotherapy or in combination. Surgical treatment with debridement, for example, callus removal or drainage of pus form an important part of diabetic foot ulcer management especially in the presence of infection. Occasionally limited surgery including dead infected bone removal may be necessary for resolution of infection. Amputation is sometimes required as a last resort for limb or life preservation.

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