Heel Cup Treatment Could Help Avoid Diabetes-Related Amputations

A trial sponsored by the Nottingham University Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust, United Kingdom (UK), is testing a lightweight fiberglass heel cup designed to protect and promote healing of diabetes-related heel ulcers, thus reducing the risk of amputation. The heel cup cast is being tested in 30 hospitals. The trial is expected to run for approximately one year and involve more than 500 patients. Funding is being provided by the UK's Department of Health.

The participating patients are randomly assigned to wear the fiberglass heel cup cast or to continue to receive the standard treatment without a heel cast, and will participate in healing assessments for six months. The study will provide information about reduction in pain, decrease in ulcer area, amputations, well-being, costs, and other clinical outcomes.

"The NHS spends over 650 million pounds [$999 million USD] a year on the treatment of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes," Fran Game, MD, a lead researcher on the study said. "We thought the heel cup was such a good idea that we thought we should do some proper research."