Simple, Home System for Early Detection and Monitoring of Diabetic Foot Ulcers:
The Foot Selfie
Mark Swerdlow 1 2, Laura Shin 1 2, Karen D’Huyvetter 1 2, Wendy J Mack 3, David G Armstrong 1 2
Background: Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) are a leading cause of disability and morbidity. There is an unmet need for a simple, practical, home method to detect DFUs early and remotely monitor their healing.
Method: We developed a simple, inexpensive, smartphone-based, “Foot Selfie” system that enables patients to photograph the plantar surface of their feet without assistance and transmit images to a remote server. In a pilot study, patients from a limb-salvage clinic were asked to image their feet daily for six months and to evaluate the system by questionnaire at five time points. Transmitted results were reviewed weekly.
Results: Fifteen patients (10 male) used the system after approximately 5 minutes of instruction. Participants uploaded images on a median of 76% of eligible study days. The system captured and transmitted diagnostic quality images of the entire plantar surface of both feet, permitting clinical-management decisions on a remote basis. We monitored 12 active wounds and 39 pre-ulcerative lesions (five wounds and 13 pre-ulcerative lesions at study outset); we observed healing of seven wounds and reversal of 20 pre-ulcerative lesions. Participants rated the system as useful, empowering, and preferable to their previous methods of foot screening.
Conclusions: With minimal training, patients transmitted diagnostic-quality images from home on most days, allowing clinicians to review serial images. This system permits inexpensive home foot screening and monitoring of DFUs. Further studies are needed to determine whether it can reduce morbidity of DFUs and/or the associated cost of care. Artificial intelligence integration could improve scalability.
Keywords: diabetic foot ulcer; foot selfie; home imaging; mobile health; remote patient monitoring; wound.
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