Comparison of Removable and Irremovable Walking Boot to Total Contact Casting in Offloading the Neuropathic Diabetic Foot Ulceration

Foot Ankle Int. 2016 Aug;37(8):855-61. doi: 10.1177/1071100716643429. Epub 2016 Apr 15.


Background: Despite its efficacy in healing neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs), total contact cast (TCC) is often underused because of technical limitations and poor patient acceptance. We compared TCC to irremovable and removable commercially available walking boots for DFU offloading.

Methods: We prospectively studied 60 patients with DFUs, randomly assigned to 3 different offloading modalities: TCC (group A), walking boot rendered irremovable (i-RWD; group B), and removable walking boot (RWD; group C). Patients were followed up weekly for 90 days or up to complete re-epithelization; ulcer survival, healing time, and ulcer size reduction (USR) were considered for efficacy, whereas number of adverse events was considered for safety. Patients' acceptance and costs were also evaluated.

Results: Mean healing time in the 3 groups did not differ (P = .5579), and survival analysis showed no difference between the groups (logrank test P = .8270). USR from baseline to the end of follow-up was significant (P < .01) in all groups without differences between the groups. Seven patients in group A (35%), 2 in group B (10%), and 1 in group C (5%) (Fisher exact test P = .0436 group A vs group C) reported nonsevere adverse events. Patients' acceptance and costs were significantly better in group C (P < .05).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that a walking boot was as effective and safe as TCC in offloading the neuropathic DFUs, irrespective of removability. The better acceptability and lesser costs of a removable device may actually extend the possibilities of providing adequate offloading.

Level of evidence: Level II, prospective comparative study.

Keywords: compliance; cost-effectiveness; diabetic foot; irremovable walking boot; offloading; removable walking boot; total contact cast.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Casts, Surgical*
  • Diabetic Foot / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Foot / therapy*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Shoes*
  • Walking
  • Weight-Bearing
  • Wound Healing