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New Relief for Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Surgery to lengthen Achilles tendon reduces risk of repeat ulcers

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

THURSDAY, Aug. 14, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Surgery to lengthen the Achilles tendon significantly reduces the risk that people with diabetes will suffer recurrence of diabetic foot ulcers.

That's the finding of a study in the August issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

About 15 percent of people with diabetes develop ulcers on their feet. Even after treatment, these ulcers often return.

"The return of these ulcers has been a key concern for patients and their clinicians. If these wounds don't heal, there's a greater risk that a patient will have to have a portion or all of the foot amputated. This study shows that lengthening the Achilles tendon can have a dramatic effect on the problem of ulcer recurrence," principal investigator Michael J. Mueller, associate professor of physical therapy, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says in a news release.

The study included 64 people with diabetes who all had an ulcer on the ball of the foot and had no amputations. They were divided into two groups. The first group received a foot cast -- the standard treatment -- while the second group received both a cast and the surgery.

After seven months, the group that received the cast and surgery was 75 percent less likely to have an ulcer recurrence than the group that just received the cast. After two years, the surgery group was 52 percent less likely to have an ulcer recurrence.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about foot care for diabetics.

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine, news release, July 2003
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