Diabetes-related foot ulceration is a major contributor to morbidity in diabetes. Diabetic foot ulcers are partly a consequence of abnormal foot pressures and pressure relief is a widely used treatment for healing diabetes-related plantar foot ulcers, but the most effective method for healing is unclear.
To determine the effects of pressure-relieving interventions on the healing of foot ulcers in people with diabetes.
For this update we searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (searched 2 November 2012); The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2012, Issue 10); Ovid MEDLINE (1950 to October Week 4 2012); Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, October 31, 2012); Ovid EMBASE (1980 to 2012 Week 43); and EBSCO CINAHL (1982 to 1 November 2012). There were no restrictions based on language or publication status.
Randomised controlled trials evaluating the effects of pressure-relieving interventions on the healing of foot ulcers in people with diabetes.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:
Data from eligible trials were extracted, and summarised using a data extraction sheet, by two review authors independently.
Fourteen trials (709 participants) met the inclusion criteria for the review. One study compared two different types of non-removable casts with no discernable difference between the groups. Seven studies (366 participants) compared non-removable casts with removable pressure-relieving devices. In five of those studies non-removable casts were associated with a statistically significant increase in the number of ulcers healed compared with the removable device (RR 1.17 95% CI 1.01 to 1.36: P value = 0.04).Two studies (98 participants) found that significantly more ulcers healed with non-removable casts than with dressings alone. Achilles tendon lengthening combined with a non-removable cast in one study resulted in significantly more healed ulcers at 7 months than non-removable cast alone (RR 2.23; 95% CI 1.32 to 3.76). More ulcers remained healed at two years in this group (RR 3.41; 95% CI 1.42 to 8.18).Other comparisons included surgical debridement of ulcers; felt fitted to the foot; felted foam dressings and none of these showed a statistically significant treatment effect in favour of the intervention.
Non-removable, pressure-relieving casts are more effective in healing diabetes related plantar foot ulcers than removable casts, or dressings alone. Non-removable devices, when combined with Achilles tendon lengthening were more successful in one forefoot ulcer study than the use of a non-removable cast alone.