Moderate to Severe Soft Tissue Diabetic Foot Infections: A Randomized, Controlled, Pilot Trial of Post-debridement Antibiotic Treatment for 10 versus 20 days

Ann Surg. 2022 Aug 1;276(2):233-238. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000005205. Epub 2021 Sep 15.


Background: The optimal duration of antibiotic therapy for soft-tissue infections of the diabetic foot remains unknown.

Objective: We determine if antibiotic therapy after debridement for a short (10 days), compared with a long (20 days), duration for soft-tissue infections of the diabetic foot results in similar rates of clinical remission and adverse events (AE).

Summary of background data: The optimal duration of systemic antibiotic therapy, after successful debridement, for soft tissue infections of diabetic patients is unknown. Because of the high recurrence risk, overuse is commonplace.

Methods: This was a randomized, controlled, non-inferiority pilot trial of cases of diabetic foot infection (excluding osteomyelitis) with the primary outcome of "clinical remission at 2-months follow-up".

Results: Among 66 enrolled episodes (17% females; median age 71 years), we randomized 35 to the 10-day arm and 31 to the 20-day arm. The median duration of the parenteral antibiotic therapy was 1 day, with the remainder given orally. In the intention-to-treat population, we achieved clinical remission in 27 (77%) patients in the 10-day arm compared to 22 (71%) in the 20-days arm ( P = 0.57). There were a similar proportion in each arm of AE (14/35 versus 11/31; P = 0.71), and remission in the per-protocol population (25/32 vs 18/27; P = 0.32). Overall, 8 soft tissue DFIs in the 10-day arm and 5 cases in the 20-day arm recurred as a new osteomyelitis [8/35 (23%) versus 5/31 (16%); P = 0.53]. Overall, the number of recurrences limited to the soft tissues was 4 (6%). By multivariate analysis, rates of remission (intention-to-treat population, hazard ratio 0.6, 95%CI 0.3-1.1; per-protocol population 0.8, 95%CI 0.4-1.5) and AE were not significantly different with a 10-day compared to 20-day course.

Conclusions: In this randomized, controlled pilot trial, post-debridement antibiotic therapy for soft tissue DFI for 10 days gave similar (and non-inferior) rates of remission and AEs to 20 days. A larger confirmatory trial is under way.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials NCT03615807.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Debridement
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / drug therapy
  • Diabetic Foot* / complications
  • Diabetic Foot* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteomyelitis* / chemically induced
  • Osteomyelitis* / etiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Soft Tissue Infections* / drug therapy


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents

Associated data