• Most diabetic foot infections are believed to be caused by both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and to require hospitalization and parenteral antimicrobial therapy. We prospectively evaluated diabetic patients with non–limb-threatening lower-extremity infections not yet treated with antibiotics. The patients were randomized to outpatient treatment with oral clindamycin hydrochloride or cephalexin for 2 weeks and evaluated every 3 to 7 days. In 56 assessable patients, curettage yielded a mean of 2.1 microorganisms. Aerobic gram-positive cocci were isolated in 50 cases (89%), and were the sole pathogen in 21 (42%) of these. Aerobic gram-negative bacilli and anaerobes were isolated in 20 (36%) and 7 (13%) cases, respectively, and almost always in polymicrobial infections. Fifty-one infections (91%) were eradicated, 42 (75%) after 2 weeks of treatment; only 5 (9%) were initially treatment failures, and 3 (5%) were subsequently cured with further outpatient oral antibiotic treatment. After a mean follow-up of 15 months, no further treatment was required in 43 (84%) of the cured patients. Previously untreated lower-extremity infections in diabetic patients are usually caused by aerobic gram-positive cocci, and generally respond well to outpatient management with oral antibiotic therapy.
(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:790-797)