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May 28, 2008 > Diabetes Matters: Diabetes Wound Care Goes Beyond 'Skin Deep'

Diabetes Matters: Diabetes Wound Care Goes Beyond 'Skin Deep'

If you have diabetes, even a minor wound can be dangerous because diabetes can impede wound healing. If not properly treated, what starts out as a small foot sore can turn into a chronic wound that can lead to amputation. In fact, of the estimated 72,000 foot amputations in the United States each year, 84 percent are related to diabetic foot ulcers.

"People with diabetes are at increased risk for complications from wounds for several reasons," says plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Prasad Kilaru, Medical Director of the Outpatient Wound Care Clinic at Washington Hospital.

"For example, diabetes impairs circulation in both the large and small blood vessels," he explains. "Since the wound-healing process depends on the availability of a good blood supply, injuries in people with diabetes are slower to heal than in people who do not have the disease. Also, people with diabetes generally do not have as strong an immune system as other people, so the risk of infection is greater."

Dr. Kilaru notes that nerve damage in people with diabetes also can contribute to the development of chronic or infected wounds. "Many people with diabetes have neuropathy - reduced sensation in their hands and feet," he says. "Because of this nerve damage, they may not feel minor sores before they develop into difficult wounds."

To help people understand more about wound care for people with diabetes, Washington Hospital will present a special "Diabetes Matters" education class on Thursday, June 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. Dr. Kilaru will present a lecture on wound care, followed by a group discussion. The session will be held in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium in the Washington West Building located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

"For people with diabetes, wound care entails much more than just treating the wounds on the surface," Dr. Kilaru emphasizes. "The first and most important step in preventing and treating wounds in people with diabetes is to maintain good blood sugar control. Keeping your blood sugar under control reduces the risk of infections because bacteria thrive on sugar.

"Monitoring your blood sugar is important for another reason," he adds. "If you have been maintaining good control of your blood sugar and it suddenly shoots up, that could be an indication of an infection."

Opened in March 2005, the Outpatient Wound Care Clinic provides advanced wound care treatment technologies tailored to the specific needs of each patient. About half of the patients at the clinic have diabetes, according to Dr. Kilaru. "We work closely with these patients to monitor and control their diabetes by providing dietary recommendations and various exercises to increase their mobility and improve blood circulation," he says.

The clinic is located at 1900 Mowry Avenue in Fremont, adjacent to Washington Hospital. Appointments are available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (510) 608-3290.

"Diabetes Matters" is a monthly program that provides science-based information to people interested in increasing their knowledge about diabetes. The classes are free and require no pre-registration. Many lectures are videotaped and available in the hospital library, as well as on the Washington Hospital Web site. Go to www.whhs.com, click on the "Services and Programs" tab, then click the link for "Diabetes Services," then "Diabetes Matters."

"Diabetes Matters" lectures also will be airing on Washington Hospital's "InHealth" TV program. To check broadcast schedules, go to the Web site, click on the "For Our Community" tab and then click the link for InHealth Channel 78 & Broadcast Schedule.

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