Diabetic foot ulcers
A major complication of diabetes are foot ulcers. Majority will heal as long as the blood supply to the foot is good and infection is treated appropriately. However, there are ulcers that persist for many months without healing.
In the traditional methods of management, they are often only treated with frequent dressing changes. Any ulcer that does not reduce in size by half within 1 month is not likely to heal with further dressing changes. Such a delay in healing can put the patient at risk of getting his or her ulcer infected. This can result in amputations.
If the ulcer is not infected, why does it not heal? The most frequent reason is that the blood supply is poor. Always ask your doctor to examine the pulses of your foot. If they are absent, one should consult a Vascular Surgeon.
If your foot pulses are present and the blood supply is good, but still the ulcer does not heal with long periods of dressing, you should see an Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Specialist. The most common reason is that the diabetes has caused deformities to appear in your foot. One severe consequence of this is called the Charcot foot. Diabetes can also cause tendons and muscle to "tighten" causing high pressure areas in your foot that in turn cause the skin to ulcerate.
The above left shows a Charcot foot with sagging of the foot and bone destruction in the middle of the foot. Ulcers can form in the bottom of the foot. The above right xrays show the same foot after reconstruction. The alignment is now restored.
The photo above on the left, shows an ulcer in the 4th toe of a diabetic patient. This ulcer has been there for 6 months. The above right photo shows the same patient 2 weeks after a tight tendon was released. The ulcer has healed completely in 2 weeks!

Practice Information