OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness of at-home infrared temperature monitoring as a preventative tool in individuals at high risk for diabetes-related lower-extremity ulceration and amputation.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Eighty-five patients who fit diabetic foot risk category 2 or 3 (neuropathy and foot deformity or previous history of ulceration or partial foot amputation) were randomized into a standard therapy group (n = 41) or an enhanced therapy group (n = 44). Standard therapy consisted of therapeutic footwear, diabetic foot education, and regular foot evaluation by a podiatrist. Enhanced therapy included the addition of a handheld infrared skin thermometer to measure temperatures on the sole of the foot in the morning and evening. Elevated temperatures (>4 degrees F compared with the opposite foot) were considered to be "at risk" of ulceration due to inflammation at the site of measurement. When foot temperatures were elevated, subjects were instructed to reduce their activity and contact the study nurse. Study subjects were followed for 6 months.
RESULTS: The enhanced therapy group had significantly fewer diabetic foot complications (enhanced therapy group 2% vs. standard therapy group 20%, P = 0.01, odds ratio 10.3, 95% CI 1.2-85.3). There were seven ulcers and two Charcot fractures among standard therapy patients and one ulcer in the enhanced therapy group.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that at-home patient self-monitoring with daily foot temperatures may be an effective adjunctive tool to prevent foot complications in individuals at high risk for lower-extremity ulceration and amputation.
Very interesting and promising. If reproduced in other trials and the measure device easily available, it could be applied in usual practice.
Promising tool - would be nice to see an integrated management plan including both this and self-testing for loss of protective sensation (monofilament testing) for preventing severe diabetic foot complications. Looking forward to more work in this area.