Expert & Leader of department: Dr. Alexander Risse, M.D.
Diabetic Foot Syndrome (DFS), colloquially also called ‘diabetic foot’, is one of the most feared diseases resulting from diabetes mellitus.
During the course of the disease, wounds or pressure sores form on the feet and occasionally even on the lower legs. They do not heal easily, usually within a matter of a few weeks. These wounds can be the result of simple accidents, or just of a knock on the tip of a toe from inside the shoe or against a hard object.
The causes of diabetic foot are poor blood circulation due to damaged blood vessels (diabetic angiopathy) or a lessened ability to feel pain (diabetic neuropathy). In most cases, both types are combined.
Due to a reduced ability to feel pain, injuries often remain undiscovered for a long while and as a result need prolonged and complex wound care. When the battle against infection is unsuccessful and the wounds spread, amputation of toes, foot, lower leg or the whole leg may be necessary.
In Germany, 200,000 diabetics suffer from diabetic foot. Every day, 80 of these patients require full or partial amputation. More than half of all amputations (about 70 percent) are performed on diabetics. That is, approximately 42,000 amputations a year.
These unsatisfactory results call for a new therapeutic approach. With first applications of stem cell based approaches already a reality, significantly enhanced wound management is showing signs of success. Another priority in diabetes research is the prevention of diabetic foot. Some promising therapy options in this field are in the research pipeline, starting with the evolution of healing mechanisms for diabetes-impaired wounds.
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