Background: To evaluate the economic aspects of diabetic foot care in a multidisciplinary setting.
Method: A review of the English language literature, published from 1966 to November 2005.
Results: The results of available studies on the cost-of-illness of diabetic foot problems are difficult to compare. Nevertheless trends concerning excess of costs, protraction in time of costs, positive correlation to severity of ulcer and/or peripheral vascular disease, contribution of in-hospital stay and length of stay, and the patient's own contribution to total costs, are obvious. Only a few cost-effectiveness and cost-utility studies are available. Most use a Markov based model to predict outcome and show an acceptable result on long-term.
Conclusions: Diabetic foot problems are frequent and are associated with high costs. A multidisciplinary approach to diabetic foot problems has proved to be cost saving with regard to cost of treatment itself. Nevertheless, it remained unclear if these savings could offset the overall costs involved in implementing this kind of approach. The few studies that address this issue specifically all show an acceptable cost-effectiveness, but often the profit will be evident after some years only, because long-term costs are involved. Based on these data, policymakers should foresee sufficient reimbursement for preventive and early curative measures, and not only for 'salvage manoeuvres'.