What Are the Stages of a Diabetic Foot Ulcer?


Quick Answer

There are five stages for diabetic foot ulcers categorized by the Wagner Grading System for Diabetic Foot Infections, according to Family Practice Notebook. First, the ulcer begins at the skin level. Second, it deepens. Third, osteomyelitis or abscess develops. In the fourth and fifth stages, the foot becomes gangrenous.

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Full Answer

The Wagner system is one of two commonly used classification systems in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, explains the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The University of Texas system lists four stages, from A to D: no infection or inadequate blood supply to the foot; existence of infection; inadequate blood supply; simultaneous existence of infection and inadequate blood supply. Use of the University of Texas classification of diabetic foot ulcers is growing in popularity because it also identifies underlying causes, rather than merely describing the ulcers, as the Wagner system does.

Diabetic foot ulcers are formed in the presence of other factors, such as peripheral nerve damage, inappropriate blood circulation to the foot, foot distortion, distension and calluses, states NCBI. It is important to identify the underlying cause of the ulcers in order to prescribe effective treatment. Foot ulcers are a prevalent consequence of diabetes, found in approximately 15 percent of diabetes sufferers. Left untreated, diabetic foot ulcers may lead to limb amputation.

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