2023 Mar 2;32(3):182-192.

doi: 10.12968/jowc.2023.32.3.182.

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy for diabetic foot ulcers: a feasibility study



Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of delivering extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) to patients with diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs). It also aimed to explore any potential clinical effect of ESWT on wound healing and investigate whether ESWT offers any patient-reported benefits.

Method: In this single-centre, mixed methods feasibility study, patients with a DFU who met the eligibility criteria underwent ESWT three times over a seven-day period. Primary outcome was feasibility of delivering the intervention. Secondary outcomes included wound size, number of DFUs healed at 12 weeks and quality of life (QoL). Semi-structured interviews explored participants’ experience of undergoing ESWT.

Results: Of 106 patients screened, 24 (22.6%) were recruited. Following recruitment, two patients were withdrawn from the study with 22 patients included in the final analysis. The mean attendance at clinic was 90.9% and 65.1% for follow-up. The mean score for acceptability and tolerability was 9.86±0.48 (95% confidence interval (CI): 9.62-10.01) and 9.15±2.57 (95% CI: 7.87-10.42), respectively. There were no serious adverse events or side-effects. Of the DFUs, 45.5% healed during follow-up and QoL scores improved until eight weeks. Key themes identified from the qualitative interviews were: desire for fast healing; improved QoL; flexibility of new treatments; and accessibility of transport.

Conclusion: This study has shown that it is possible to recruit and retain patents into a single-arm study of ESWT for DFUs. This study supports development of a large randomised control trial to determine the clinical and cost-effectiveness of ESWT for DFU healing.

Keywords: Diabetes; Diabetic foot ulcer; Extracorporeal shockwave therapy; Shockwave; Ulcer; Wound; Wound care; Wound dressing; Wound healing.