High probability of healing without amputation of plantar forefoot ulcers in patients with diabetes
Diabetic foot ulcer is an important entity which in many cases is the first serious complication in diabetes. Although a plantar forefoot location is common, there are few studies on larger cohorts and in such studies there is often a combination of various types of ulcer and ulcer locations. The purpose of this study is to discern the outcome of plantar forefoot ulcers and their specific characteristics in a large cohort. All patients (n = 770), presenting with a plantar forefoot ulcer at a multidisciplinary diabetes foot clinic from January 1, 1983 to December 31, 2012 were considered for the study. Seven hundred one patients (median age 67 [22–95]) fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were followed according to a preset protocol until final outcome (healing or death). Severe peripheral vascular disease was present in 26% of the patients and 14% had evidence of deep infection upon arrival at the foot clinic. Fifty-five percent (385/701) of the patients healed without foot surgery, 25% (173/701) healed after major debridement, 9% (60/701) healed after minor or major amputation and 12% (83/701) died unhealed. Median healing time was 17 weeks. An ulcer classified as Wagner grade 1 or 2 at inclusion and independent living were factors associated with a higher healing rate. Seventy-nine percent of 701 patients with diabetes and a plantar forefoot ulcer treated at a multidisciplinary diabetes foot clinic healed without amputation. For one third some form of foot surgery was needed to achieve healing.