Does osteomyelitis in the feet of patients with diabetes really recur after surgical treatment? Natural history of a surgical series

Diabet Med. 2012 Jun;29(6):813-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03528.x.


Aims/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to determine the rate of recurrence, reulceration and new episodes of osteomyelitis and the duration of postoperative antibiotic treatment in a prospective cohort of patients with diabetes who underwent conservative surgery for osteomyelitis.

Methods: The prospective cohort included patients with diabetes and a definitive diagnosis of osteomyelitis who were admitted to the Diabetic Foot Unit (Surgery Department, La Paloma Hospital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain) and underwent surgical treatment from 1 November 2007 to 30 May 2010.

Results: Eighty-one patients were operated on for osteomyelitis during the study period. Seven patients were lost to follow-up at different stages of the study. The median duration of follow-up was 101.8 weeks (quartile 1 = 56.6, quartile 3 = 126.7). Forty-eight patients (59.3%) underwent conservative surgery, 32 (39.5%) had minor amputations and there was one (1.2%) major amputation. Twenty patients (24.7%) required reoperation because of persistent infection. Postoperative antibiotic treatment over a median period of 36 days was provided. Wound healing was achieved by secondary intention for a median of 8 weeks. Sixty-five patients were available for follow-up after healing. The percentage of recurrence, reulceration, and new episodes of osteomyelitis was 4.6% (3/65), 43% (28/65) and 16.9% (11/65), respectively. Mortality during follow-up (excluding in-hospital deaths and patients lost to follow-up) was 13% (9/69).

Conclusion: A low rate of recurrence of osteomyelitis after surgical treatment for osteomyelitis was achieved. Despite new episodes, our approach to managing this cohort of patients with diabetes and foot osteomyelitis achieved 98.8% limb salvage.

MeSH terms

  • Amputation / statistics & numerical data
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diabetic Foot / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Foot / etiology
  • Diabetic Foot / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Limb Salvage / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Osteomyelitis / epidemiology
  • Osteomyelitis / etiology
  • Osteomyelitis / surgery*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents