Emerging Evidence for Neuroischemic Diabetic Foot Ulcers: Model of Care and How to Adapt Practice

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Abstract

Although neuropathic ulceration remains the commonest type of foot ulcers among patients with diabetes, recent data suggest that ischemic (and therefore, neuroischemic) ulcers are on the rise. The high prevalence and incidence of diabetes and its attendant foot complications, coupled with the current trend where increasingly diabetes care is being provided by general practitioners (primary care physicians) would mean that primary care practices are expected to see greater numbers of diabetic foot ulcer patients. Unfortunately, these settings are frequently ill-equipped to appropriately manage diabetic foot ulcers either due to lack of adequately trained personnel and access to multidisciplinary foot care teams. Whereas neuropathic foot ulceration may appear to be less challenging, neuroischemic or ischemic ulcers portend a higher risk of adverse outcomes, including non-healing, infection, amputation, and death. The last 2 decades have witnessed a paradigm shift from neuropathy as the main etiological factor in diabetic foot disease to an ever-increasing preponderance of ischemic and/or neuroischemic ulceration. Available literature does not always consider the limited access primary care practices have to specialized multidisciplinary foot care teams. Additionally, in the case of neuroischemic and/or ischemic ulcers, existing guidelines on their diagnosis and management are varied and unclear. This review aimed at providing a simple understanding to the complex evidence base for diagnosing and treating neuroischemic and/or ischemic ulcers in a primary care setting. It emphasizes the need for urgent vascular review in all patients with ischemic/ neuroischemic ulcers and advocates effective participation of vascular specialists in diabetic foot clinics and combined ward rounds.

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