Treatment options for diabetic neuropathic foot ulcers: a cost-effectiveness analysis

Dermatol Surg. 2001 Apr;27(4):347-51. doi: 10.1046/j.1524-4725.2001.00280.x.


Background: Diabetic foot ulcers are a common problem and result in more than 85,000 lower extremity amputations each year in the United States. Studies have suggested that between 25% and 50% of costs related to inpatient diabetes care may be directly attributable to the diabetic foot. Novel treatments for these wounds, while expensive, have been reported to improve healing rates, although no formal cost effectiveness analyses have been performed in order to address the cost effectiveness of a given therapy.

Objective: To estimate the cost effectiveness of common treatment strategies for diabetic neuropathic foot ulcers.

Methods: Four main options are available for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers: (1) standard care (SC), (2) standard treatment in a specialized wound care center (WCC), (3) treatment with becaplermin, (4) or treatment with platelet releasate (PR). We utilized effectiveness data from published clinical trials, meta-analyses, and a database that includes data on 26,599 patients with these wounds. Effectiveness was assessed as a percentage of ulcers healed at 20 and 32 weeks.

Results: Baseline effectiveness (with 95% confidence intervals) for SC, becaplermin, PR, and WCC care were 30.9% (26.6, 35.1), 43.0% (37.3, 48.7), 36.8% (35.4, 38.2), and 35.6% (34.8, 36.4), respectively. Cost:effectiveness ratios for PR versus SC and becaplermin versus SC were 414.40 and 36.59, respectively. Therefore the incremental cost of increasing the odds of healing by 1% over standard therapy was $414.40 for PR and $36.59 for becaplermin.

Conclusions: PR, becaplermin, and WCC care all provided improved healing rates over standard care, and becaplermin was less expensive and more effective than PR after 20 weeks of care.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Becaplermin
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diabetic Foot / economics*
  • Diabetic Foot / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / therapeutic use
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-sis


  • Anticoagulants
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-sis
  • Becaplermin