What is diabetic foot?
If you are diabetic and have a wound on your foot, you have diabetic foot.
Does the disease affect everyone who has diabetes?
Approximately 15% of diabetics will have a wound on their feet at some time in their lives and the following are some of the risk factors: loss of feeling, loss of circulation, deformities in the feet, uncontrolled blood sugar levels or inadequate care.
Does diabetic foot only affect the elderly?
No, although the appearance of wounds on the feet are more related with the evolution of diabetes over the years and the metabolic aspects with the age of the patient.
What are the consequences of the condition?
The main problem is the appearance of ulcers that may lead to amputation of part of the foot (minor amputation) or even of the whole leg (major amputation). Some patients are unable to do rehabilitation due to other associated diseases and, so spend their lives confined to a wheelchair. To sum up, loss of independence, loss of quality of life and early death.
85% of amputations caused by diabetes are preceded by a foot ulcer.
Is diabetic foot just a vascular problem whose only solution is amputation?
50% of diabetic foot cases are not a vascular problem, but are caused by the fact that ulcers can also be caused by neuropathological conditions affecting the nerves and causing the patient to lose feeling in the feet. These ulcers can heal with the right treatment. If the problem is vascular, there are treatments to increase blood circulation in the leg and heal the ulcer.
How important is it to prevent this disease?
It is estimated that 50% of amputations in diabetics could be prevented with a patient education program and appropriate examination of the limbs before the wound appears. For that reason it is vital to detect diabetics at risk of suffering diabetic foot and take early action.
The podiatrist plays a vital role in saving a diabetic foot.
How can changes be detected before the ulcer appears?
By means of simple clinical examinations, such as checking the pulse in the foot or early detection of loss of feeling with simple, painless instruments.
What are the symptoms of an infected ulcer on the foot of a diabetic person?
When the patient begins to feel pain, it is a good indication of infection. Other important signs are when the wound smells unpleasant or there is necrosis or dead tissue.
What advances have been made in the fight against this complicated disease?
Advances have been made in terms of understanding the causes of the disease and how to treat it. With certain types of surgery and antibiotics, we can beat many foot infections. There are new dressings that accelerate healing and vascular treatments for patients whose blood circulation is not good enough. Revascularization can be carried out using minimally invasive techniques from inside the patients’ arteries.
What does the unit offer for diabetic foot?
The Diabetic Foot Unit offers different diagnostic and treatment techniques. Some of these are:
- Systolic pressure on the ankle
- Blood volume ratio in fingers and toes by means of digital photoplethysmography
- Transcutaneous oxygen pressure
- Peripheral neuropathy study
- Neuropad test
- Ultrasound electromyography
- Image techniques (ultrasound, CT scanning, MRI)
- Growth factors (PRGF)
- Endovascular treatment (angioplasty and/or stents)
- Early and aggressive drainage of septic diabetic foot
- Conservative surgery for patients with bone infection
- CMI prophylactic surgery
- Conventional surgery