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Diabetic Foot

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s experienced team of specialists expertly diagnose, treat, and work to prevent diabetes-related foot conditions. We also have a robust diabetes research program aimed at better understanding the disease and its treatments.

We offer diabetic patients a range of strategies and therapies – including educational, non-surgical, and surgical options – to help keep their feet as healthy as possible and avoid serious complications. 

Experts in Treating Diabetes Complications

People with diabetes are especially prone to foot problems due to neuropathy – nerve damage that can cause sensation loss – and vascular disease, which can impede blood flow and hinder healing.

These diabetes complications mean that minor foot issues such as ingrown toenails, cuts, scrapes, and blisters can become severely infected ulcers before they are discovered and treated. This is why it’s not uncommon for people with diabetes to lose their toes, feet, and legs to amputation.

Diabetic neuropathy also can cause the shape of the feet to change and lead to a condition called Charcot foot.

UT Southwestern’s diabetic foot experts work to prevent these complications and appropriately treat them when they arise. Our multidisciplinary team includes podiatric surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, infectious disease specialists, vascular surgeons, internal medicine specialists, endocrinologists, patient educators, and rehabilitation specialists.

Prevention

Patient education and proper foot care are key to avoiding diabetic foot issues. Preventive measures include:

  • Properly managing blood glucose levels
  • Carefully checking the feet daily for cuts, scrapes, blisters, fungal infections, ingrown toenails, corns, callouses, plantar warts, and warm spots
  • Thoroughly washing and drying the feet daily
  • Always wearing shoes and socks
  • Keeping feet from getting too hot or cold
  • Keeping blood flowing to the legs and feet
  • Having the doctor check a patient’s feet at every visit
  • Cutting toenails straight across
  • Gently smoothing corns and callouses

People with diabetes should see a doctor promptly if they develop any problems with their feet, no matter how minor.

Treatment

Prompt, appropriate evaluation and treatment of diabetic foot concerns are critical to preventing serious complications, and UT Southwestern specialists aggressively treat these issues.

Treatments include:

  • Wound monitoring and care
  • Antibiotics
  • Surgery: Includes damaged-tissue removal (debridement), infection incision and drainage, trauma treatment, reconstruction, fracture repair, and amputation. The specialized surgeons on our Diabetic Limb Salvage Service strive to avoid amputation and preserve functional limbs in patients with diabetic foot disease.
  • Rehabilitation: For patients recovering from surgery

Clinical Trials

As a nationally recognized academic medical center, UT Southwestern is a leader in diabetes research. In addition to the basic research conducted at our Touchstone Diabetes Center, we conduct a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the care and outcomes of people with diabetes.
New Research: Placenta Therapy Greatly Improves Healing of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

UT Southwestern doctors see a nearly threefold improvement in wound closures

Foot ulcers are a common and potentially serious complication for people with diabetes. Even with proper wound care, chronic diabetic foot ulcers often are difficult to treat – and can lead to amputation of the toes, feet, and legs.

But a novel therapy – the use of viable cryopreserved placental membranes (vCPMs) – may help change this.

In a randomized trial of 360 patients with 441 wounds, doctors from UT Southwestern Medical Center and several partner institutions found that treating diabetic foot ulcers with these specially preserved membranes significantly improves wound closures (62 percent) when compared to standard “good wound care” (21 percent) within a 12-week period.

The results of the multicenter trial (“Effectiveness of viable cryopreserved placental membranes for management of diabetic foot ulcers in a real world setting”) were published in the April 23 issue of Wound Repair and Regeneration.

These findings corroborate the results of previous randomized studies in supporting the benefits of using vCPMs to manage diabetic foot ulcers. The findings also can influence policy and treatment decisions regarding the use of advanced vCPM technology.

“Improving the treatment – and therefore the healing – of diabetic foot ulcers goes a long way in reducing infection, hospitalizations, and preventing amputations,” says study co-author Katherine Raspovic, D.P.M., an assistant professor in UT Southwestern’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

“While more research on the use of viable cryopreserved placental membranes is needed, those of us who treat patients with diabetic foot conditions are very encouraged by these results.”

Additional co-authors include UT Southwestern Professor and Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery,  Dane Wukich, M.D., and Lawrence Lavery, D.P.M., M.P.H., Professor, Department of Plastic Surgery.

Read the article.

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