Predictors of outcomes in diabetic foot osteomyelitis treated initially with conservative (nonsurgical) medical management: A retrospective study

Paul Zeun, Catherine Gooday, Ian Nunney, Ketan Dhatariya

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The optimal way to manage diabetic foot osteomyelitis remains uncertain, with debate in the literature as to whether it should be managed conservatively (ie, nonsurgically) or surgically. We aimed to identify clinical variables that influence outcomes of nonsurgical management in diabetic foot osteomyelitis. We conducted a retrospective study of consecutive patients with diabetes presenting to a tertiary center between 2007 and 2011 with foot osteomyelitis initially treated with nonsurgical management. Remission was defined as wound healing with no clinical or radiological signs of osteomyelitis at the initial or contiguous sites 12 months after clinical and/or radiological resolution. Nine demographic and clinical variables including osteomyelitis site and presence of foot pulses were analyzed. We identified 100 cases, of which 85 fulfilled the criteria for analysis. After a 12-month follow-up period, 54 (63.5%) had achieved remission with nonsurgical management alone with a median (interquartile range) duration of antibiotic treatment of 10.8 (10.1) weeks. Of these, 14 (26%) were admitted for intravenous antibiotics. The absence of pedal pulses in the affected foot (n = 34) was associated with a significantly longer duration of antibiotic therapy to achieve remission, 8.7 (7.1) versus 15.9 (13.3) weeks (P = .003). Osteomyelitis affecting the metatarsal was more likely to be amputated than other sites of the foot (P = .016). In line with previous data, we have shown that almost two thirds of patients presenting with osteomyelitis healed without undergoing surgical bone resection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Lower Extremity Wounds
Issue number1
Early online date27 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • osteomyelitis
  • diabetic foot
  • diabetes
  • amputation
  • infection
  • antibiotics

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