JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Diabetic foot infection

Mazen S Bader
American Family Physician 2008 July 1, 78 (1): 71-9
18649613
Foot infections are common in patients with diabetes and are associated with high morbidity and risk of lower extremity amputation. Diabetic foot infections are classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and beta-hemolytic streptococci, are the most common pathogens in previously untreated mild and moderate infection. Severe, chronic, or previously treated infections are often polymicrobial. The diagnosis of diabetic foot infection is based on the clinical signs and symptoms of local inflammation. Infected wounds should be cultured after debridement. Tissue specimens obtained by scraping the base of the ulcer with a scalpel or by wound or bone biopsy are strongly preferred to wound swabs. Imaging studies are indicated for suspected deep soft tissue purulent collections or osteomyelitis. Optimal management requires aggressive surgical debridement and wound management, effective antibiotic therapy, and correction of metabolic abnormalities (mainly hyperglycemia and arterial insufficiency). Treatment with antibiotics is not required for noninfected ulcers. Mild soft tissue infection can be treated effectively with oral antibiotics, including dicloxacillin, cephalexin, and clindamycin. Severe soft tissue infection can be initially treated intravenously with ciprofloxacin plus clindamycin; piperacillin/tazobactam; or imipenem/cilastatin. The risk of methicillin-resistant S. aureus infection should be considered when choosing a regimen. Antibiotic treatment should last from one to four weeks for soft tissue infection and six to 12 weeks for osteomyelitis and should be followed by culture-guided definitive therapy.

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