Introduction: This is the first prospective study done locally to determine the effectiveness of vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) therapy in the healing of chronic diabetic foot ulcers.Materials and Methods: An electronic vacuum pump was used to apply controlled negative pressure evenly across the wound surface. Changes in wound dimension, presence of wound granulation and infection status of diabetic foot ulcers in 11 consecutive patients with diabetes were followed over the course of VAC therapy. Results: Healing was achieved in all wounds. Nine wounds were closed by split-skin grafting and 2 by secondary closure. The average length of treatment with VAC therapy was 23.3 days. Ten wounds showed reduction in wound size. All wounds were satisfactorily granulated and cleared of bacterial infection at the end of VAC therapy. Conclusion: VAC therapy was useful in the treatment of diabetic foot infection and ulcers, which after debridement, may present with exposed tendon, fascia and/or bone. These included ray amputation wounds, wounds post-debridement for necrotising fasciitis, wounds post-drainage for abscess, a heel ulcer and a sole ulcer. It was able to prepare ulcers well for closure via split-skin grafting or secondary closure in good time. This reduced cost of VAC therapy, as therapy was not prolonged to attain greater reduction in wound area. VAC therapy also provides a sterile, more controlled resting environment to large, exudating wound surfaces. Large diabetic foot ulcers were thus made more manageable.
Diabetes mellitus is a common problem in Singapore, with an incidence of 8.2% in the local population aged between 18 and 69 in 2004. Ten per cent to 25% of diabetics developed foot ulcerations.
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