Aim: To investigate factors predisposing to recurrent foot ulceration in patients with diabetes mellitus.
Methods: Two groups of patients who had attended a specialist Diabetes Foot Centre were assessed: relapsers (n = 26), whose foot ulceration had recurred at least twice, and nonrelapsers (n = 25), whose initial ulcer had not recurred for at least 2 years.
Results: In the relapser group 10/26 patients waited at least 24 h before reporting symptoms compared with only 2/25 in the nonrelapser group (P < 0.05). Vibration perception threshold (volts) was 38 +/- 12 (mean +/- SD) in relapsers compared with 25 +/- 13 in nonrelapsers (P < 0.005). Cold perception threshold (degrees C) was 9.1 +/- 4.6 in relapsers compared with 5.1 +/- 3.5 in nonrelapsers (P<0.005). HbA1c (%) was significantly raised at 8.5 +/- 1.7 in relapsers compared with 7.6 +/- 1.2 in nonrelapsers (P = 0.03). Alcohol intake was 0.5 (median, interquartile range 0-2) units per day in relapsers compared with 0.0 (median, interquartile range 0-0.25) units in nonrelapsers (P = 0.04). Smoking habits, housing conditions, visual acuity, threshold for warm perception and the Doppler pressure index were not significantly different in the two groups.
Conclusions: Patients who develop recurrent foot ulceration delay in reporting symptoms, when compared with diabetic patients whose foot ulceration does not recur. The relapsers also have evidence of poorer glycaemic control, more neuropathy and increased alcohol intake.