Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) are a big problem. DFU patients are at increased risk of depression, amputation and even death1. DFUs even have a higher mortality rate than some cancers1. Yes, sometimes the big C does not compare to the big D. The main reason DFUs are so insidious is because of the loss of feeling in the foot that many diabetics experience as the disease progresses. In the non-diabetic patient, stepping on a sharp object results in pain and prompt attention is given to the damaged skin. Whereas in the neuropathic diabetic patient, there is no pain, and attention is given to the area only after a DFU is formed. And at this point, the foot could be at risk for amputation.
It is, therefore, imperative to prevent DFUs from forming in the first place. The question is: how can we prevent DFUs from happening? One group from the University of Wisconsin-Madison may have the answer in the form of machine learning and thermal imaging. Briefly, images of healthy to ulcerated diabetic feet and their thermal signatures are analyzed by their software, training it to identify the stages of DFU development. This information is then used to assess the diabetic foot and can lead to early detection of ulcer formation, which can greatly reduce the burden of DFU consequences such as depression, amputation, and death.
The current prototype has an 89% success rate of early DFU detection in 250 patients. And excitingly, this tool will be mobile and used by both patients and clinicians. For diabetic patients, foot health checks will be more productive and actionable, and for clinicians, patients can be triaged to receive the care that they need. Sounds like a win-win situation! Read the full article here: https://badgerherald.com/news/2021/04/02/uw-students-work-to-develop-technology-to-find-diabetic-foot-ulcers-sooner/
Learn more about DFU wound care in WOUNDS: The ABCESS System for Chronic Wound Management: A New Acronym for Lower Extremity Wound Management. Pioneered by Dr. James McGuire, DPM, PT of Temple University.