Controlling blood glucose in treating diabetic foot ulcers (sores)

Background: People with diabetes can develop foot ulcers (sores) for a number of reasons. This includes nerve damage and reduced blood flow to the feet and legs. Having high blood glucose may affect the ability of foot ulcers to heal and therefore intensively controlling blood glucose may be beneficial.

Review question: This Cochrane review aimed to answer the question; how does controlling blood glucose more intensively compared to conventional blood glucose control influence foot ulcer healing in people with diabetes?

What we found: We did not find any trials which have been completed on this topic with available results. The only trial which met our criteria for inclusion had been terminated due to encountering difficulties with recruiting participants. Therefore we cannot be sure whether controlling blood glucose intensively when people have diabetic foot ulcers is beneficial or harmful. The lack of evidence however should not deter efforts to achieve optimal glycaemic control in people with diabetic foot ulcers to encourage healing as is current practice. We believe there are currently two trials underway which may provide some evidence on this topic once completed.

This Plain Language Summary is up to date as of 7 December 2015.

Authors' conclusions: 

The current review failed to find any completed randomised clinical trials with results. Therefore we are unable to conclude whether intensive glycaemic control when compared to conventional glycaemic control has a positive or detrimental effect on the treatment of foot ulcers in people with diabetes. Previous evidence has however highlighted a reduction in risk of limb amputation (from various causes) in people with type 2 diabetes with intensive glycaemic control. Whether this applies to people with foot ulcers in particular is unknown. The exact role that intensive glycaemic control has in treating foot ulcers in multidisciplinary care (alongside other interventions targeted at treating foot ulcers) requires further investigation.

Read the full abstract...
Background: 

The estimated likelihood of lower limb amputation is 10 to 30 times higher amongst people with diabetes compared to those without diabetes. Of all non-traumatic amputations in people with diabetes, 85% are preceded by a foot ulcer. Foot ulceration associated with diabetes (diabetic foot ulcers) is caused by the interplay of several factors, most notably diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and changes in foot structure. These factors have been linked to chronic hyperglycaemia (high levels of glucose in the blood) and the altered metabolic state of diabetes. Control of hyperglycaemia may be important in the healing of ulcers.

Objectives: 

To assess the effects of intensive glycaemic control compared to conventional control on the outcome of foot ulcers in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Search strategy: 

In December 2015 we searched: The Cochrane Wounds Specialised Register; The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library); Ovid MEDLINE; Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations); Ovid EMBASE; EBSCO CINAHL; Elsevier SCOPUS; ISI Web of Knowledge Web of Science; BioMed Central and LILACS. We also searched clinical trial databases, pharmaceutical trial databases and current international and national clinical guidelines on diabetes foot management for relevant published, non-published, ongoing and terminated clinical trials. There were no restrictions based on language or date of publication or study setting.

Selection criteria: 

Published, unpublished and ongoing randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were considered for inclusion where they investigated the effects of intensive glycaemic control on the outcome of active foot ulcers in people with diabetes. Non randomised and quasi-randomised trials were excluded. In order to be included the trial had to have: 1) attempted to maintain or control blood glucose levels and measured changes in markers of glycaemic control (HbA1c or fasting, random, mean, home capillary or urine glucose), and 2) documented the effect of these interventions on active foot ulcer outcomes. Glycaemic interventions included subcutaneous insulin administration, continuous insulin infusion, oral anti-diabetes agents, lifestyle interventions or a combination of these interventions. The definition of the interventional (intensive) group was that it should have a lower glycaemic target than the comparison (conventional) group.

Data collection and analysis: 

All review authors independently evaluated the papers identified by the search strategy against the inclusion criteria. Two review authors then independently reviewed all potential full-text articles and trials registry results for inclusion.

Main results: 

We only identified one trial that met the inclusion criteria but this trial did not have any results so we could not perform the planned subgroup and sensitivity analyses in the absence of data. Two ongoing trials were identified which may provide data for analyses in a later version of this review. The completion date of these trials is currently unknown.

Share/Save