Objective: ischaemic lower-extremity ulcers in the diabetic population are a source of major concern because of the associated high risk of limb-threatening complications. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of hyperbaric oxygen in the management of these ulcers.
Method: eighteen diabetic patients with ischaemic, non-healing lower-extremity ulcers were recruited in a double-blind study. Patients were randomly assigned either to receive 100% oxygen (treatment group) or air (control group), at 2.4 atmospheres of absolute pressure for 90 min daily (total of 30 treatments).
Results: healing with complete epithelialisation was achieved in five out of eight ulcers in the treatment group compared to one out of eight ulcers in the control group. The median decrease of the wound areas in the treatment group was 100% and in the control group was 52% (p=0.027). Cost-effectiveness analysis has shown that despite the extra cost involved in using hyperbaric oxygen, there was a potential saving in the total cost of treatment for each patient during the study.
Conclusion: hyperbaric oxygen enhanced the healing of ischaemic, non-healing diabetic leg ulcers and may be used as a valuable adjunct to conventional therapy when reconstructive surgery is not possible.