Systematic review of antimicrobial treatments for diabetic foot ulcers

E A Nelson, S O'Meara, S Golder, Jane Elizabeth Dalton, D Craig, C Iglesias, DASIDU Steering Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Foot ulcers in diabetes are associated with increased mortality, illness and reduced quality of life. Ulcer infection impairs healing and antimicrobial interventions may cure infection, aid healing and reduce amputation rates.

OBJECTIVES: To systematically review the evidence for antimicrobial interventions for foot ulcers in diabetes.

METHODS: We searched 16 databases, 11 Internet sites, three books, conference proceedings, a journal and bibliographies in November 2002. We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or controlled clinical trials (CCTs).

RESULTS: Twenty-three studies investigated the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of antimicrobial agents: intravenous antibiotics (n = 8); oral antibiotics (n = 5); topical antimicrobials (n = 4); subcutaneous granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) (n = 4); Ayurvedic preparations (n = 1): and sugar vs. antibiotics vs. standard care (n = 1). The trials were small and too dissimilar to be pooled. There is no strong evidence for any particular antimicrobial agent for the prevention of amputation, resolution of infection, or ulcer healing. Pexiganan cream may be as effective as oral ofloxacin for resolution of infection. Ampicillin and sulbactam cost less than imipenem/cilastatin, G-CSF cost less than standard care and cadexomer iodine dressings may cost less than daily dressings.

CONCLUSIONS: The evidence is too weak to recommend any particular antimicrobial agent. Large studies are needed of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of antimicrobial interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-59
Number of pages12
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diabetic Foot
  • Humans
  • Infection
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome

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