Wound management of chronic diabetic foot ulcers: from the basics to regenerative medicine

Prosthet Orthot Int. 2015 Feb;39(1):29-39. doi: 10.1177/0309364614534296.


Background: Hospital-based studies have shown that mortality rates in individuals with diabetic foot ulcers are about twice those observed in individuals with diabetes without foot ulcers.

Objective: To assess the etiology and management of chronic diabetic foot ulcers.

Study design: Literature review.

Methods: Systematic review of the literature discussing management of diabetic foot ulcers. Since there were only a few randomized controlled trials on this topic, articles were selected to attempt to be comprehensive rather than a formal assessment of study quality.

Results: Chronic nonhealing foot ulcers occur in approximately 15% of patients with diabetes. Many factors contribute to impaired diabetic wound healing. Risk factors include peripheral neuropathy, peripheral arterial disease, limited joint mobility, foot deformities, abnormal foot pressures, minor trauma, a history of ulceration or amputation, and impaired visual acuity. With the current treatment for nonhealing diabetic foot ulcers, a significant number of patients require amputation.

Conclusion: Diabetic foot ulcers are optimally managed by a multidisciplinary integrated team. Offloading and preventative management are important. Dressings play an adjunctive role. There is a critical need to develop novel treatments to improve healing of diabetic foot ulcers. The goal is to have wounds heal and remain healed.

Clinical relevance: Diabetic neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease are major factors involved in a diabetic foot ulcer. Despite current treatment modalities for nonhealing diabetic foot ulcers, there are a significant number of patients who require amputations. No known therapy will be effective without concomitant management of ischemia, infection, and adequate offloading.

Keywords: Diabetes; diabetic foot ulcer; neuropathy; wounds.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Amputation, Surgical
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diabetic Foot / complications
  • Diabetic Foot / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Foot / therapy*
  • Disease Management*
  • Humans
  • Patient Care Team
  • Regenerative Medicine / trends*
  • Risk Factors
  • Wound Healing / physiology*