The Association Between Elevated Foot Skin Temperature and the Incidence of Diabetic Foot Ulcers: A Meta-Analysis

Int J Low Extrem Wounds. 2021 Jun;20(2):111-118. doi: 10.1177/1534734619897501. Epub 2020 Feb 28.


Prior to the appearance of any foot ulcer, there is an increase in the local temperature due to the presence of an underlying inflammatory process. The use of thermometry to identify inflammation could make patients increase preventive measures until the inflammation disappears. We carried out a meta-analysis to determine the effectiveness of the daily measurement of the foot temperature in 6 points to prevent the occurrence of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. Patients with temperature differences >4°F (2.2°C) between left and right corresponding sites should reduce activity and increase preventive measures until temperature is normalized. We searched the literature in MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, Web of Knowledge, and We have only included randomized clinical trials where individuals were assigned to receive enhanced care (temperature measurement and standard care) versus standard care (education, self-care practices, and periodic clinical visits). We found 4 trials comprising 462 patients from the United States and Norway that met our inclusion criteria. The duration of follow-up varied from 4.5 to 15 months. Overall, 18 (7.9%) subjects in the enhanced foot care group and 53 (22.6%) in the standard foot care group developed foot ulcers (pooled risk ratio = 0.37; 95% confidence interval = 0.21-0.66; P = .0008; percentage of heterogeneity [I2], 25%; P = .26). The number needed to treat was 7 (95% confidence interval = 5-11). The results were robust after analysis by subgroups according to the potential risk of bias in the studies and the duration of follow-up.

Keywords: diabetes; foot ulcer; thermometry; wound assessment; wound skin temperature measurements.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Diabetic Foot* / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Foot* / epidemiology
  • Foot Ulcer*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Skin Temperature