Cost-effective method for treating diabetic foot: Improved healing lessens need for lower-limb amputation

Radiografia-Man-Feet Investigators at Karunya Rural Community Hospital and at Karunya University in Tamil Nadu have developed a cost-effective method of effectively treating diabetic foot with vacuum therapy, using a locally-developed vacuum suction system and recycled materials.

Diabetic foot is a complication in about 15% of patients with Diabetes Mellitus (DM) and can lead to limb amputation. Diabetic foot is a chronic wound that develops in the foot due to poor circulation and infection or any other complication of DM. Tissues surrounding the wound that have poor circulation do not efficiently transport oxygen or perform other cellular processes. The healing process is impaired by poor circulation and dead tissues.

“The method that we use has an initial cost (£150) and uses fewer materials for dressing daily than other methods. It is easy to use at the extremities and is effective in preventing amputation.”
–J Gnanaraj, M.S., M.Ch .; Danita Gnanaraj, B.E.; Arun Prasad, B.E. Salvaging a diabetic foot: a new cost-effective method. Tropical Doctor, Apr 2012; 42:88-89.

Key Point: Diabetic patients develop chronic wounds in their foot due to poor circulation and infection. Previous low-cost vacuum therapy treatment units had difficulty treating wounds on the extremities while maintaining negative pressure. The treatment method described here, using a local suction unit and recycled 20 L water bottle, is not only cost-effective, but is also effective in improving healing in diabetic patients and ultimately reducing the extent of lower-limb amputation.

Negative pressure therapy (vacuum therapy) was discovered in 1990 at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in the USA, demonstrating that negative pressure applied to wounds improved wound-healing in a shorter amount of time. Vacuum therapy improves the circulation of oxygen in tissues, improving wound-healing. Efficient wound healing is essential in minimizing risk of lower-limb amputation due to gangrene and other infections. Low-cost options to treat diabetic foot are needed in local hospitals and treatment centers in India, where DM is prevalent and medical fees are usually paid “out of pocket.”

Previous low-cost vacuum therapy devices were designed in a way that made it difficult to treat limb extremities while keeping a ...

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