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Keywords:

  • foot ulcer;
  • incidence;
  • screen;
  • risk factor;
  • neuropathy disability score;
  • population

Abstract

Aims To determine the incidence of, and clinically relevant risk factors for, new foot ulceration in a large cohort of diabetic patients in the community healthcare setting.

Methods Diabetic patients (n = 9710) underwent foot screening in six districts of North-west England in various healthcare settings. All were assessed at baseline for demographic information, medical and social history, neuropathy symptom score, neuropathy disability score, cutaneous pressure perception (insensitivity to the 10 g monofilament), foot deformities, and peripheral pulses. Two years later, patients were followed up via postal questionnaire to determine the incidence of new foot ulcers. Cox’s proportional hazards regression analysis was used to determine the independent, relative risk of baseline variables for new foot ulceration.

Results New foot ulcers occurred in 291/6613 patients who completed and returned their 2-year follow-up questionnaire (2.2% average annual incidence). The following factors were independently related to new foot ulcer risk: ulcer present at baseline (relative risk (95% confidence interval)) 5.32 (3.71–7.64), past history of ulcer 3.05 (2.16–4.31), abnormal neuropathy disability score (≥ 6/10) 2.32 (1.61–3.35), any previous podiatry attendance 2.19 (1.50–3.20), insensitivity to the 10 g monofilament 1.80 (1.36–2.39), reduced pulses 1.80 (1.40–2.32), foot deformities 1.57 (1.22–2.02), abnormal ankle reflexes 1.55 (1.01–2.36) and age 0.99 (0.98–1.00).

Conclusions More than 2% of community-based diabetic patients develop new foot ulcers each year. The neuropathy disability score, 10 g monofilament and palpation of foot pulses are recommended as screening tools in general practice.