Objective: This study was designed to test the safety, effectiveness, and costs of off-loading with a novel, off-the-shelf irremovable device in the management of diabetic foot ulceration (DFU).
Research design and methods: We prospectively evaluated off-loading of neuropathic plantar ulcers in 40 diabetic outpatients attending our diabetic foot clinic and compared healing rates at the 12-week follow-up, number and severity of adverse events, healing time, costs and applicability of the device, and patients' satisfaction between those randomly assigned to total contact casting (TCC; group A) or to the Optima Diab walker (group B). Deep or infected ulcers were excluded.
Results: No difference between groups A and B was observed in healing rates at 12 weeks (95 vs. 85%), healing time (6.5 +/- 4.4 vs. 6.7 +/- 3.4 weeks), and number of adverse events (six versus four). Treatment was significantly less expensive in group B, which showed a mean reduction of costs of 78% compared with group A (P < 0.001). Practicability was more favorable in group B, with a reduction of 77 and 58% of the time required for application and removal of the devices, respectively (P < 0.001). Patients' satisfaction with the treatment was higher in group B (P < 0.01).
Conclusions: The Optima Diab walker is as safe and effective as TCC in the management of DFU, but its lower costs and better applicability may be of help in spreading the practice of off-loading among the centers that manage the diabetic foot.