The efficacy of inflammatory markers in diagnosing infected diabetic foot ulcers and diabetic foot osteomyelitis: Systematic review and meta-analysis

From Sharma and coworkers in PLoS One

Background: Diabetes foot ulcer (DFU) is a complication of diabetes mellitus. Accurate diagnosis of DFU severity through inflammatory markers will assist in reducing impact on quality of life. We aimed to ascertain the diagnostic test accuracy of commonly used inflammatory markers such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP), procalcitonin (PCT), and white cell count (WCC) for the diagnosis and differentiation between DFU grades based on the International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot classification system.

Methods: This systematic review explored studies that investigated one or more of the above-listed index tests aiding in diagnosing infected DFU. This review was registered on PROSPERO database (ID = CRD42021255618) and searched 5 databases including an assessment of the references of included studies. Records were manually screened as per Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines. A total of 16 studies were included which were assessed for quality using QUADAS-2 tool and meta-analysed using Meta-Disc v1.4.

Results: CRP had the greatest area under the curve (AUC) of 0.893 for diagnosing grade 2 DFU. This returned a pooled sensitivity and specificity of 77.4% (95% CI: 72% to 82%) and 84.3% (95% CI: 79% to 89%) respectively. In terms of diagnosing grade 3 DFU, procalcitonin had the highest AUC value of 0.844 when compared with other markers. The pooled sensitivity of PCT was calculated as 85.5% (95% CI: 79% to 90%) and specificity as 68.9% (95% CI: 63% to 75%).

Conclusion: CRP and PCT are the best markers for diagnosing grade 2 and grade 3 DFU respectively. Other markers are also valuable when used in conjunction with clinical judgement. The findings accentuate the necessity of further research to establish standardised cut-off values for these inflammatory markers in diagnosing diabetic foot ulcers.

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