Pharmacotherapy of lower limb diabetic ulcers.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

PubMedID: 10894324

Temple ME, Nahata MC. Pharmacotherapy of lower limb diabetic ulcers. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2000;48(7):822-8.
To discuss the pathophysiology, microbiology, and pharmacotherapy of lower extremity (LE) diabetic ulcers.

A MEDLINE search from 1966 to April 1999 was conducted. The search was limited to humans and English-language journals. Key search words included "diabetic ulcer," "fluoroquinolones," "beta-lactam," "hyperbaric oxygen," "diabetes mellitus," "diabetic foot," and "growth factor."

Randomized and nonrandomized studies were selected for review. Results of randomized, placebo-controlled studies were emphasized more than nonrandomized results.

LE ulcers are a common cause of hospitalization, and cause significant morbidity and mortality. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common pathogen in non-limb-threatening infections; Gram-negative bacteria and anaerobes are most prevalent in limb-threatening and life-threatening infections. Oral antibiotic therapy may be used in non-limb-threatening infections, if adequate response is achieved in 24-48 hours; otherwise, intravenous antibiotics should be started. Intravenous antibiotics should be the initial therapy for limb-threatening or life- threatening ulcers. Antimicrobial therapy of at least 10-14 days has been effective in treating LE ulcers in the absence of osteomyelitis. Growth factors offer another treatment alternative, although only becaplermin is currently approved for diabetic ulcers.

Antibiotic therapy has been effective for the treatment of LE diabetic ulcers. However, further studies are required to identify optimal antibiotics and dosage regimens. Growth factors may have a role but additional research is needed to determine when best to initiate this therapy.