Can we Improve how we Diagnose Osteomyelitis in the Diabetic Foot?

  • Kim Harman

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Health (DHealth)


Soft tissue infection in a diabetic foot with an ulcer is often clinically obvious but the diagnosis of osteomyelitis underlying a diabetic foot ulcer is challenging. It has been calculated that there are over 1 million amputations worldwide for diabetes related complications every year, many preceded by an ulcer complicated by osteomyelitis. This research encompasses two studies attempting to add to the ways in which osteomyelitis is diagnosed. The first was examining the role of inflammatory blood markers in recognising and separating ulcers with cutaneous infection from both suspected and proven osteomyelitis. The response of the body to produce these markers when an injury occurs is well known but arguments exist as to the capacity of the individual with diabetes to do so. Despite the recognition and allowance for common confounding factors no trend was found. This study may have been more difficult than originally thought due to the many interactions of the diseased state of diabetes, the drugs used to control it and the many other confounders that would have influenced the inflammatory process and as such the level of the markers. The second study was comparing a new form of scanning technique (SPECT/CT) to the technique most commonly used as a ‘gold standard’ – MRI. The results of each type of scan were compared to the clinical diagnosis and each other. The SPECT/CT scan appears to show some good results and may be a more suitable scan for individuals who are unable to have a MRI for example due to the need to introduce a renally excreted drug to help make the images clearer but it does mean introducing a small amount of radiation into the individual.
Date of Award1 Mar 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorGordon Taylor (Supervisor)


  • Diagnosis
  • inflammatory blood markers
  • diabetic foot
  • imaging
  • Osteomyelitis

Cite this