Aims To conduct a multicentre observational study to describe management of foot infections in diabetes in the out-patient setting in Italy.
Patients and methods Ten centres equally distributed nationwide were asked to collect, by means of a spreadsheet (Access/Excel Microsoft program), data concerning 30 consecutive diabetic patients with foot infections deemed suitable for antibiotic treatment in the out-patient setting. Centres with ≥ 5 years’ experience of out-patient management were selected. Data from 271 consecutive patients treated as out-patients were collected and analysed by the central coordinator. Statistical analysis was performed using the SPSS statistical software package.
Results Lesions were mainly located at the toes and midfoot (33.6 and 30.2%, respectively); 63 (23.2%) patients had multiple ulcers. Seventy (25.8%) patients also had concomitant osteomyelitis. Three hundred and four pathogens, including Gram-positive and Gram-negative aerobes and anaerobes, were isolated in 219/271 patients (80.8%) by culturing debrided tissue (71.2%) or purulent material (28.8%). Infections were polymicrobial in 33.8% of patients. The most common pathogens were Staphylococcus aureus (27.3%) and Pseudomonas spp. (20.4%); enterobacteriaceae, enterococci, streptococci and anaerobes accounted for 11.5, 7.6, 6.9 and 1.9%, respectively. Antibiotics were frequently administered by parenteral route and frequently in combination. Piperacillin/tazobactam was the parenteral antibiotic most frequently utilized (21.1%). Cure/improvement was observed in 93.4% of patients.
Conclusions Foot ulcers in diabetes are common and serious; the aetiology is often polymicrobial, often including S. aureus and Pseudomonas spp. Treatment in the out-patient setting is safe and effective, and penicillins together with β-lactamase inhibitors and fluoroquinolones are the most frequent choice.