The role of surgical debridement in healing of diabetic foot ulcers

Katherine A. Gordon, Elizabeth A. Lebrun, Marjana Tomic-Canic, Robert S. Kirsner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


A critical question in the treatment of chronic wounds is whether and when debridement is needed. The three most common chronic wounds are the diabetic foot ulcer (DFU), the venous leg ulcer, and the pressure or decubitus ulcer. Surgical debridement, aimed at removing necrotic, devitalized wound bed and wound edge tissue that inhibits healing, is a longstanding standard of care for the treatment of chronic, nonhealing wounds. Debridement encourages healing by converting a chronic nonhealing wound environment into a more responsive acute healing environment. While the rationale for debridement seems logical, the evidence to support its use in enhancing healing is scarce. Currently, there is more evidence in the literature for debridement for DFUs than for venous ulcers and pressure ulcers; however, the studies on which clinicians have based their rationale for debridement in DFUs possess methodologic flaws, small sample sizes, and bias. Thus, further studies are needed to develop clinical evidence for its inclusion in treatment protocols for chronic wounds. Here, the authors review the scientific evidence for debridement of DFUs, the rationale for debridement of DFUs, and the insufficient data supporting debridement for venous ulcers and pressure ulcers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-26
Number of pages3
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Dermatology


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