The value of debridement and Vacuum-Assisted Closure (V.A.C.) Therapy in diabetic foot ulcers




Treatment of diabetic foot ulcers includes a number of different regimes such as glycaemic control, re-vascularization, surgical, local wound treatment, offloading and other non-surgical treatments. Although considered the standard of care, the scientific evidence behind the various debridements used is scarce. This presentation will focus on debridement and V.A.C. Therapy, two treatments widely used in patients with diabetes and foot ulcers.


A review of existing literature on these treatments in diabetic foot ulcers, with focus on description of the various types of debridements used, the principles behind negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) using the V.A.C. Therapy system and level of evidence.


Five randomized controlled trials (RCT) of debridement were identified; three assessed the effectiveness of a hydrogel as a debridement method, one evaluated surgical debridement and one evaluated larval therapy. Pooling the three hydrogel RCTs suggested that hydrogels are significantly more effective than gauze or standard care in healing diabetic foot ulcers. Surgical debridement and larval therapy showed no significant benefit. Other debridement methods such as enzyme preparations or polysaccharide beads have not been evaluated in RCTs of people with diabetes. More than 300 articles have been published on negative pressure wound therapy, including several small RCTs and a larger multi-centre RCT of diabetic foot ulcers. Negative pressure wound therapy seems to be a safe and effective treatment for complex diabetic foot wounds, and could lead to a higher proportion of healed wounds, faster healing rates, and potentially fewer re-amputations than standard care.


Although debridement of the ulcer is considered a prerequisite for healing of diabetic foot ulcers, the grade of evidence is quite low. This may be due to a lack of studies rather than lack of effect. Negative pressure wound therapy seems to be safe and effective in the treatment of some diabetic foot ulcers, although there is still only one well-performed trial that evaluates the effect. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.