A clinical trial involving 371 patients in eight countries shows that linezolid, a new antibiotic, is at least as effective as two older therapies for treating diabetic foot infections. The drug may be an important new agent for doctors treating infections that are increasingly caused by bacteria resistant to standard antibiotics, and that in severe cases may require amputation. The study, led by a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) physician and conducted at 30 U.S. and 15 European sites, appears in the current issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Foot infections are among the most serious complications of diabetes, and a leading cause of diabetes-related hospitalizations. The infections typically occur when pathogens--usually gram-positive bacteria--infect foot ulcers. These sores develop because of diabetes-related nerve damage and loss of feeling in the feet. Amputation may be needed when infections fail to respond to therapy. People with diabetes account for about two-thirds of the 134,000 lower-limb amputations performed each year in the United States.
"The complication of diabetes that patients fear most is leg amputation, and infection is often the final pathway that leads to this tragic, if often preventable, outcome," said lead author Benjamin A. Lipsky, director of the General Internal Medicine and Antibiotic Research clinics at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.
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