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Diabetologia. 2004 Aug;47(8):1343-53. Epub 2004 Jul 28.

The diabetic foot: from art to science. The 18th Camillo Golgi lecture.

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Department of Medicine, Manchester Royal Infirmary, UK.


Diabetic foot ulceration represents a major medical, social and economic problem all over the world. While more than 5% of diabetic patients have a history of foot ulceration, the cumulative lifetime incidence may be as high as 15%. Ethnic differences exist in both ulcer and amputation incidences, with both being less common in patients of Indian subcontinent origin living in the UK. Foot ulceration results from the interaction of several contributory factors, the most important of which is neuropathy. With respect to the management of acute Charcot neuroarthropathy in diabetes, recent studies suggest that bisphosphonates reduce disease activity as judged not only by differences in skin temperature, but also by assessing markers of bone turnover. The use of the total-contact cast is demonstrated in the treatment of acute Charcot feet and of plantar neuropathic ulcers. Histological evidence suggests that pressure relief results in chronic foot ulcers changing their morphological appearance by displaying some features of an acute wound. Thus, repetitive stresses on the insensate foot appear to play a major role in maintaining ulcer chronicity. It is hoped that increasing research activity in foot disease will ultimately result in fewer ulcers and less amputation in diabetes.

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