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Diabetic Foot Ulcers

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

A diabetic foot ulcer is a serious wound that develops from a cut or scratch on your foot. You may not be able to feel a cut or scratch because of nerve and blood vessel damage. This damage is caused by long-term high blood sugar levels.

Foot Ulcers

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Your ulcer may not heal or it may become infected. The infection may spread to body organs or your blood. You may have tissue death and your foot or leg may start to turn black. You may need surgery to remove infected or dead tissue. You may need an amputation. A diabetic foot ulcer can be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

A dietitian

may work with you to find a meal plan that will help you control your blood sugar. You may need to eat foods high in protein, vitamins, and minerals to improve your healing.

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.

  • Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.

  • Growth factors help increase cell repair so you can heal. Growth factor may be a gel that is put directly on your ulcer.

  • Vasodilators help widen your blood vessels and improve blood flow.

  • Insulin may be given to decrease the amount of sugar in your blood.

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

Tests:

  • Blood tests may show an infection.

  • An ankle brachial index test may show how well blood flows to your feet.

  • A monofilament test may show nerve damage in your feet. A healthcare provider presses a small wire against the bottoms of your feet.

  • A tissue, drainage, or bone sample may be taken from your ulcer to check for infection. These samples help healthcare providers find the best treatment for your foot ulcer.

  • An x-ray, ultrasound, CT, or MRI may show the infection and how deep it is. You may be given contrast liquid to help your foot show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

Treatment:

  • Bandages help keep your wound area moist and free from infection. The bandages may contain medicines to help your ulcer heal and prevent growth of unhealthy tissue.

  • Electrical stimulation uses a low-level electrical current on your ulcer to improve healing.

  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the oxygen supply to the area of your ulcer. The increased oxygen may decrease swelling, and help your ulcer to heal faster.

  • Negative pressure wound therapy uses a machine to pull fluid out to decrease swelling, improve blood flow, and help your ulcer heal.

  • Offloading devices , such as insoles, cushions, braces, or custom foot wear may be needed. These devices help decrease the amount of weight and pressure placed on your foot.

  • Surgery may help improve blood flow and wound healing. Infected or dead tissue may need to be removed from your ulcer.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Diabetic Foot Ulcers (Inpatient Care)

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