Placenta therapy: Patient selection key to best outcomes


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Lawrence Lavery, D.P.M., M.P.H.

Diabetic foot ulcers are nothing to mess around with. Notoriously difficult to heal, these ulcers can develop infections that make amputation of the toes, feet, and legs necessary to stop their spread.

This too common and potentially dangerous complication of foot ulcers means that people with diabetes must be vigilant about examining and taking care of their feet – and immediately see a doctor for even seemingly minor foot concerns.

Thankfully for those who develop diabetes-related foot wounds, there are a number of therapies proven to help them heal.

UT Southwestern offers all of these treatments, which range from antibiotics, standard wound care, and surgery to leading-edge therapies such as the application of a wound dressing made of cryopreserved human placental tissue to help heal wounds.

This dressing helps wounds heal because it contains growth factors, extracellular matrix, and mesenchymal stem cells.

Patient criteria for placental membrane wound therapy

The innovative use of cryopreserved placental membranes to manage diabetic foot disease was pioneered here at UT Southwestern by my colleague Lawrence Lavery, D.P.M., M.P.H.

In 2014, Dr. Lavery led a multicenter study that showed the use of cryopreserved placental membranes along with standard wound therapy significantly improved healing of diabetic foot ulcers compared to standard wound therapy alone.

The therapy isn’t right for every person or every wound, but it has been proven* to significantly increase healing in carefully chosen patients when used in conjunction with other treatments. Particularly for diabetic foot wounds that are “stuck” and not healing, this is another modality we can use.

Candidates for placental membrane wound therapy are people who:

  • Properly manage their blood glucose (“blood sugar”) levels
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t have a deformity or an active or underlying infection in the affected area
  • Have optimal arterial circulation in the affected area
  • Are committed to proper nutrition and a diabetes-appropriate diet

Because the wounds of patients who don’t meet these baseline criteria are unlikely to heal no matter how many placental membrane grafts we perform, we consider only people who meet the criteria for this treatment.

To find out whether you or a loved one might be a good candidate for placental membrane wound therapy for diabetic foot disease at UT Southwestern, please call the University Hospital Wound Care Clinic at 214-645-7900.

* “Effectiveness of viable cryopreserved placental membranes for management of diabetic foot ulcers in a real world setting” was co-authored by Dane Wuckich, M.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; Lawrence Lavery, D.P.M., M.P.H., Professor, Department of Plastic Surgery; and Katherine Raspovic, D.P.M., Assistant Professor, Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Plastic Surgery.