An estimated 15% of patients with diabetes mellitus will develop a foot ulcer during their lifetime. Debridement is included in multiple guidelines and algorithms for the care of patients with diabetic neuropathic foot ulcers, and it has long been considered an essential step in the protocol for treating diabetic foot ulcers. In addition to altering the environment of the chronic wound, debridement is a technique aimed at removing nonviable and necrotic tissue, thought to be detrimental to healing. This is accomplished by removing abnormal wound bed and wound edge tissue, such as hyperkeratotic epidermis (callus) and necrotic dermal tissue, foreign debris, and bacteria elements known to have an inhibitory effect on wound healing. While the rationale for surgical debridement seems logical, the evidence for its role in enhancing healing is deficient. In this paper, we systematically review five published clinical trials, which met the criteria and investigated surgical debridement of diabetic foot ulcers to enhance healing. Most existing studies are not randomized clinical trials optimized to test the relationship between debridement of diabetic foot ulcers and wound healing. Therefore, a focused, well-designed study is needed to elucidate the effect of surgical debridement on the healing status of chronic wounds.
© 2010 by the Wound Healing Society.