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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Topical antimicrobial agents for treating foot ulcers in people with diabetes

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, June 2017
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (94th percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (78th percentile)

Mentioned by

1 news outlet
2 policy sources
46 X users
2 patents
4 Facebook pages
1 Wikipedia page


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Topical antimicrobial agents for treating foot ulcers in people with diabetes
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, June 2017
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd011038.pub2
Pubmed ID

Jo C Dumville, Benjamin A Lipsky, Christopher Hoey, Mario Cruciani, Marta Fiscon, Jun Xia


People with diabetes are at high risk for developing foot ulcers, which often become infected. These wounds, especially when infected, cause substantial morbidity. Wound treatments should aim to alleviate symptoms, promote healing, and avoid adverse outcomes, especially lower extremity amputation. Topical antimicrobial therapy has been used on diabetic foot ulcers, either as a treatment for clinically infected wounds, or to prevent infection in clinically uninfected wounds. To evaluate the effects of treatment with topical antimicrobial agents on: the resolution of signs and symptoms of infection; the healing of infected diabetic foot ulcers; and preventing infection and improving healing in clinically uninfected diabetic foot ulcers. We searched the Cochrane Wounds Specialised Register, CENTRAL, Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations), Ovid Embase, and EBSCO CINAHL Plus in August 2016. We also searched clinical trials registries for ongoing and unpublished studies, and checked reference lists to identify additional studies. We used no restrictions with respect to language, date of publication, or study setting. We included randomised controlled trials conducted in any setting (inpatient or outpatient) that evaluated topical treatment with any type of solid or liquid (e.g., cream, gel, ointment) antimicrobial agent, including antiseptics, antibiotics, and antimicrobial dressings, in people with diabetes mellitus who were diagnosed with an ulcer or open wound of the foot, whether clinically infected or uninfected. Two review authors independently performed study selection, 'Risk of bias' assessment, and data extraction. Initial disagreements were resolved by discussion, or by including a third review author when necessary. We found 22 trials that met our inclusion criteria with a total of over 2310 participants (one study did not report number of participants). The included studies mostly had small numbers of participants (from 4 to 317) and relatively short follow-up periods (4 to 24 weeks). At baseline, six trials included only people with ulcers that were clinically infected; one trial included people with both infected and uninfected ulcers; two trials included people with non-infected ulcers; and the remaining 13 studies did not report infection status.Included studies employed various topical antimicrobial treatments, including antimicrobial dressings (e.g. silver, iodides), super-oxidised aqueous solutions, zinc hyaluronate, silver sulphadiazine, tretinoin, pexiganan cream, and chloramine. We performed the following five comparisons based on the included studies: Antimicrobial dressings compared with non-antimicrobial dressings: Pooled data from five trials with a total of 945 participants suggest (based on the average treatment effect from a random-effects model) that more wounds may heal when treated with an antimicrobial dressing than with a non-antimicrobial dressing: risk ratio (RR) 1.28, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12 to 1.45. These results correspond to an additional 119 healing events in the antimicrobial-dressing arm per 1000 participants (95% CI 51 to 191 more). We consider this low-certainty evidence (downgraded twice due to risk of bias). The evidence on adverse events or other outcomes was uncertain (very low-certainty evidence, frequently downgraded due to risk of bias and imprecision). Antimicrobial topical treatments (non dressings) compared with non-antimicrobial topical treatments (non dressings): There were four trials with a total of 132 participants in this comparison that contributed variously to the estimates of outcome data. Evidence was generally of low or very low certainty, and the 95% CIs spanned benefit and harm: proportion of wounds healed RR 2.82 (95% CI 0.56 to 14.23; 112 participants; 3 trials; very low-certainty evidence); achieving resolution of infection RR 1.16 (95% CI 0.54 to 2.51; 40 participants; 1 trial; low-certainty evidence); undergoing surgical resection RR 1.67 (95% CI 0.47 to 5.90; 40 participants; 1 trial; low-certainty evidence); and sustaining an adverse event (no events in either arm; 81 participants; 2 trials; very low-certainty evidence). Comparison of different topical antimicrobial treatments: We included eight studies with a total of 250 participants, but all of the comparisons were different and no data could be appropriately pooled. Reported outcome data were limited and we are uncertain about the relative effects of antimicrobial topical agents for each of our review outcomes for this comparison, that is wound healing, resolution of infection, surgical resection, and adverse events (all very low-certainty evidence). Topical antimicrobials compared with systemic antibiotics : We included four studies with a total of 937 participants. These studies reported no wound-healing data, and the evidence was uncertain for the relative effects on resolution of infection in infected ulcers and surgical resection (very low certainty). On average, there is probably little difference in the risk of adverse events between the compared topical antimicrobial and systemic antibiotics treatments: RR 0.91 (95% CI 0.78 to 1.06; moderate-certainty evidence - downgraded once for inconsistency). Topical antimicrobial agents compared with growth factor: We included one study with 40 participants. The only review-relevant outcome reported was number of ulcers healed, and these data were uncertain (very low-certainty evidence). The randomised controlled trial data on the effectiveness and safety of topical antimicrobial treatments for diabetic foot ulcers is limited by the availability of relatively few, mostly small, and often poorly designed trials. Based on our systematic review and analysis of the literature, we suggest that: 1) use of an antimicrobial dressing instead of a non-antimicrobial dressing may increase the number of diabetic foot ulcers healed over a medium-term follow-up period (low-certainty evidence); and 2) there is probably little difference in the risk of adverse events related to treatment between systemic antibiotics and topical antimicrobial treatments based on the available studies (moderate-certainty evidence). For each of the other outcomes we examined there were either no reported data or the available data left us uncertain as to whether or not there were any differences between the compared treatments. Given the high, and increasing, frequency of diabetic foot wounds, we encourage investigators to undertake properly designed randomised controlled trials in this area to evaluate the effects of topical antimicrobial treatments for both the prevention and the treatment of infection in these wounds and ultimately the effects on wound healing.

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 46 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 692 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 692 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 103 15%
Student > Bachelor 98 14%
Researcher 60 9%
Student > Ph. D. Student 47 7%
Student > Postgraduate 42 6%
Other 113 16%
Unknown 229 33%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 186 27%
Nursing and Health Professions 90 13%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 35 5%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 28 4%
Social Sciences 15 2%
Other 85 12%
Unknown 253 37%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 51. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 13 April 2023.
All research outputs
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Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
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Outputs of similar age
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Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
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Altmetric has tracked 25,382,440 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,484 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 39.9. This one has done well, scoring higher than 86% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 331,803 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 94% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 194 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 78% of its contemporaries.