BACKGROUND: Recent studies showed no reduction in major amputation rates after introduction of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcer. The efficacy of MDTs in the current standard of care is being questioned. This retrospective single-center study evaluated the efficacy of an outpatient MDT approach on limb salvage and ulcer healing in treating diabetic foot ulcers.
METHODS: Patients with a diabetic foot ulcer treated before (2015) and after (2017) implementation of an MDT in a single center were compared. The MDT met weekly and consisted of a vascular surgeon, physiatrist, internist, shoe technician, wound care nurse, nurse practitioner, cast technician, and podiatrist. The primary outcome was limb salvage at 1 year. Secondary outcomes were ulcer healing, amputation-free survival, freedom from any amputation, and overall survival. Multivariable Cox regression models were used to assess predictors for major amputation.
RESULTS: A vascular surgeon treated 104 patients with 148 ulcers in 2015, and the multidisciplinary team treated 133 patients with 188 ulcers in 2017. Limb salvage (90.9% vs. 95.5%, P = 0.050), freedom from any amputation (56.5% vs. 78.0%, P < 0.001), and ulcer healing (48.3% vs. 69.2%, P < 0.001) were significantly lower in the non-MDT group than in the MDT group. Amputation-free survival and overall survival did not differ significantly between the groups. Predictors for major amputation were University of Texas Wound Classification 3D (hazard ratio, 2.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.17-6.45) and being treated in the non-MDT group (hazard ratio, 3.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.25-11.08).
CONCLUSIONS: This retrospective study found an MDT dedicated to diabetic foot care was highly effective in increasing limb salvage and ulcer healing. We advise that such an MDT is an integrated part of the patient's chain-based care.