What You Should Know About Diabetic Foot Ulcers

By Joseph C. White, MD, FAAFP

hbot-blog-photoA diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound that commonly appears on the bottom of the foot and occurs among 15% of people with diabetes, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations in the United States, and the APMA reports that approximately 14-24% of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer will require an amputation.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is an effective adjunctive therapy to traditional diabetic wound care.  HBOT provides extra oxygen to help repair the non-healing wound. It does this by causing the formation of new blood vessels [angiogenesis] to replace those damaged by diabetes. By increasing blood flow, the wound is better supplied to promote healing.

Patients enter a hyperbaric chamber where the pressure is raised in order to allow more oxygen into the body. 100% oxygen at greater than atmospheric pressure is used inside the chamber.   Each case is treated uniquely, but typically a patient with a diabetic wound will come five times a week for a four-week period with each session lasting two hours.  During treatments, patients can comfortably relax, nap, or watch television.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, when used to treat chronic diabetic foot ulcers/wounds, has been shown to reduce the number of major leg/foot amputations.  In a trial of 184 patients treated with combined HBOT and standard diabetic foot wound treatments, HBOT was found to reduce major amputation rates over standard wound care alone according to a study published by the journal of International Orthopaedics.

Joseph C. White, MD, FAAFP is the Director of Hyperbaric Medicine at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital.

About Mather Hospital

Mather Hospital is an accredited 248-bed, non-profit community teaching hospital dedicated to providing a wide spectrum of health care services of the highest quality to the residents of Suffolk County in a cost effective manner. As members of the Mather Hospital Family - trustees, medical staff, hospital staff, volunteers and benefactors - we are committed to providing care to the best of our ability showing compassion and respect and treating each patient in the manner we would wish for our loved ones. We will meet or exceed each patient's expectations through the continued collaborative efforts of each and every member of the Mather Hospital Family.
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