April 1990

Outpatient Management of Uncomplicated Lower-Extremity Infections in Diabetic Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Internal Medicine and the Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle (Drs Lipsky and Pecoraro), and the Medical Service, Seattle (Wash) Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Mss Larson, Hanley, and Ahroni).

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(4):790-797. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390160058013

• Most diabetic foot infections are believed to be caused by both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and to require hospitalization and parenteral antimicrobial therapy. We prospectively evaluated diabetic patients with non–limb-threatening lower-extremity infections not yet treated with antibiotics. The patients were randomized to outpatient treatment with oral clindamycin hydrochloride or cephalexin for 2 weeks and evaluated every 3 to 7 days. In 56 assessable patients, curettage yielded a mean of 2.1 microorganisms. Aerobic gram-positive cocci were isolated in 50 cases (89%), and were the sole pathogen in 21 (42%) of these. Aerobic gram-negative bacilli and anaerobes were isolated in 20 (36%) and 7 (13%) cases, respectively, and almost always in polymicrobial infections. Fifty-one infections (91%) were eradicated, 42 (75%) after 2 weeks of treatment; only 5 (9%) were initially treatment failures, and 3 (5%) were subsequently cured with further outpatient oral antibiotic treatment. After a mean follow-up of 15 months, no further treatment was required in 43 (84%) of the cured patients. Previously untreated lower-extremity infections in diabetic patients are usually caused by aerobic gram-positive cocci, and generally respond well to outpatient management with oral antibiotic therapy.

(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:790-797)