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Diabet Med. 1996 Feb;13(2):156-9.

Antibiotic treatment for uncomplicated neuropathic forefoot ulcers in diabetes: a controlled trial.

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Diabetic Foot Clinic, Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf, Germany.


To investigate the effect of oral antibiotics in purely neuropathic ulcers (Wagner grade 1-2, no osteomyelitis), a double blind placebo-controlled study was performed. Forty-four patients were enrolled and subjected to standard treatment with absolute pressure relief (half shoes), daily wound cleansing (topical disinfectant), sterile dressings (specialized nurse). Patients were randomized to an antibiotic (amoxicillin plus clavulanic acid), or placebo. The study was stopped when the antibiotic proved unsuitable according to swab result, or on clinical grounds (no improvement within 6 days of recruitment). Main outcome measure was the ulcer closing rate during 20 days, as assessed by standardized photographs. All ulcers except one were infected. Of the placebo group (n = 22), 2 patients had to be withdrawn within 6 days, versus 3 patients of the antibiotic-group (n = 22). In the placebo group, 10 ulcers were healed versus 6 ulcers in the antibiotic group (NS). Mean (95% CI) reduction in ulcer radius was 0.41 (0.21-0.61) mm day-1 in the placebo group versus 0.27 (0.15-0.39) mm day-1 in the antibiotic group (NS). In conclusion, there is no benefit from antibiotic treatment with amoxicillin plus clavulanic acid as a supplement to standard therapy in uncomplicated neuropathic foot ulcers, provided pressure relief is complete, and wound care is performed strictly supervised. However, a Type-II statistical error cannot be excluded in this small study.

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