Diabetes: World’s Largest Study Targeting Foot Ulcers

What’s crucial for a diabetic’s foot sore to heal is that the ulcer is superficial, blood circulation is normal, and the person has had diabetes for short time. This is shown in the world’s largest diabetes study regarding foot ulcers, which have been carried out by the researcher Magdalena Annersten Gershater at Malmö University in Sweden.

Diabetes is becoming more and more common. Today 5 – 10 per cent of the population is estimated to suffer from the disease. One common complication is foot ulcers, which affect 12,000 diabetics in Sweden each year. This is a group that requires a great deal of highly specialised care in hospitals to avoid amputation.

“People who have had diabetes for a long time often develop poor blood circulation in their legs, which hampers healing,” says Gershater. She is surprised that so many patients have poor blood circulation: “Our study also shows that age as such is not a risk factor”.

In some cases the foot ulcer is so complicated that it’s necessary to amputate. Gershater has performed a study to find out what factors are related to whether patients with diabetes and foot ulcers heal with or without amputation. The study, with 2,480 patients, is the largest of its kind.

“The study shows that 65 per cent of the patients healed without amputation. What was decisive for the ulcer to heal was that the sore is superficial, that the patient has not had diabetes for long, and that blood circulation is normal,” says Gershater.

Nine per cent were resolved with amputation of toes or the front of the foot, while eight percent underwent leg amputation. “The study shows that deep infections, vascular disease, the location of the sore, male gender, and other disease all increase the risk of amputation.”; Source: The Swedish Research Council

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