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Important Terms to Know: Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Practice Accelerator
January 1, 2024

Alginate: A highly absorptive, non-occlusive dressing material, often composed of natural polysaccharide fibers or xerogel derived from brown seaweed or kelp. On contact with exudate, these dressings form a moist gel through a process of ion exchange. They are typically soft, conformable, and easy to pack, tuck, or apply over irregularly shaped wounds. They are typically used for wounds with moderate-to-heavy exudate. 

Ankle-brachial index (ABI): The calculation of the systolic blood pressure of the ankle divided by the systolic blood pressure of the arm. The ABI is a simple method to assess for peripheral arterial disease. 

Diabetic foot ulcer (DFU): An open sore or wound on the foot of a patient with diabetes, commonly found on the bottom (plantar) of the foot, but can occur in any pedal location. 

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy: A common condition in patients with diabetes that affects the function of the sensory, motor, and autonomic nervous systems and can result in loss of protective sensation, biomechanical deformities of the foot, and altered sweat gland function, respectively. 

Ischemia: Insufficient vascular supply possibly resulting in tissue damage if no intervention occurs. It can be caused by either acute obstruction (critical limb ischemia) or constriction (possibly chronic vascular complications of disease states such as diabetes mellitus). 

Offloading: The mechanical process of distributing weight and dynamic forces to support wound healing. Specifically, in wound care, this may focus on relieving pressure or stress from certain anatomic areas or structures. 

Plantar: Related to the sole of the foot. 

Risk assessment: The process of identifying risk factors that may contribute to the development of a condition. 

Shear: The force applied to body tissues when tissues move in opposite directions from each other. This force increases the pressure on blood vessels and reduces perfusion to the area. 

Total contact cast systems: Nonremovable offloading devices that are constructed of a single-layer cast and an outer-layer component for extra support. They are indicated for use in diabetic foot conditions, such as noninfected neuropathic ulcers, as well as pre-ulcerative conditions and post-operative wounds.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, HMP Global, its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.