Daily temperature checks reduce foot ulcers: study
Checking foot temperature each day with an infrared skin thermometer significantly reduces the recurrence of foot ulcerations, according to clinicians in Texas and Chicago.Dr. Lawrence A. Lavery, of Texas A&M University Health Science Center in Temple, and his associates noted that elevated skin temperature is a sign of inflammation associated with tissue injury. But the signs tend to be too subtle to easily detect.
Lavery and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving diabetic patients between 18 and 80 years of age with a history of foot ulceration and loss of sensation. Participants were assigned to one of three study groups.
One group received standard therapy, which consisted of foot evaluation by a physician every eight weeks, the provision of therapeutic insoles and footwear, and a patient education program.
A second group received the same treatment, plus instructions to inspect the bottom of their feet with a mirror twice daily.
The third – the enhanced therapy group – received the same treatment as the second, but also used a digital thermometer daily. They also were told to notify the study nurse if the temperature at the same site differed by more than four degrees on consecutive days.
About 30% of subjects in the first two groups developed a new foot ulcer, compared with only 8.5% in the third group. Fully 90% of the first two groups also had full-thickness ulcers by the time a problem was noticed.
More than 10,000 of the skin thermometers have been sold since the Food and Drug Administration approved them last year.
The skin thermometers sell for approximately $150 each. Researchers noted that their cumulative cost pales in comparison to the nation's annual cost for treating ulcers and amputation, which they pegged at more than $20 billion.