Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for the Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers: A Health Technology Assessment

ABSTRACTBackgroundAbout 15% to 25% of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer. These wounds are often resistant to healing; therefore, people with diabetes experience lower limb amputation at about 20 times the rate of people without diabetes. If an ulcer does not heal with standard wound care, other therapeutic interventions are offered, one of which is hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).However, the effectiveness of this therapy is not clearly known. The objectives of this health technology assessment were to assess the safety, clinical effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of standard wound care plus HBOT versus standard wound care alone for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. We also investigated the preferences and perspectives of people with diabetic foot ulcers through lived experience.MethodsWe performed a review of the clinical and economic literature for the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, as well as the budget impact of HBOT from the perspective of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. We assessed the quality of the body of clinical evidence using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) Working Group criteria. To better understand the preferences, perspectives, and values of patients with diabetic foot ulcers and their experience with HBOT, we conducted interviews and administered an online survey. ResultsSeven randomized controlled trials and one nonrandomized controlled trial met the inclusion criteria. Comparing standard wound care plus HBOT with standard wound care alone, we found mixed results for major amputation rates (GRADE quality of evidence: low), a significant difference in favour of standard wound care plus HBOT on ulcers healed (GRADE quality of evidence: low), and no difference in terms of adverse events (GRADE quality of evidence: moderate).There is a large degree of uncertainty associated with the evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of  standard wound care plus HBOT. However, results appear to suggest that this treatment results in lower costs and better outcomes than standard wound care alone. Funding HBOT will result in a budget impact of $4 million per year in immediate treatment costs for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. This cost decreases to $0.5 million per year when downstream costs are considered.There is a substantial daily burden of care and emotional weight associated with living with diabetic foot ulcers, both of which are compounded by concern regarding possible amputation. Patients feel that HBOT is an effective treatment and reported that they were satisfied with how their ulcers healed and that this improved their quality of life. ConclusionsThe evidence makes it difficult to draw any definitive conclusions on the clinical and cost effectiveness of standard wound care plus HBOT versus standard wound care alone for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. 

Categories: Costs, Dermatology, Infectology, Wounds