Foot problems are quite common among diabetics and very often are difficult to treat. New research, however, has shown that grafts from a patient's skin cells can help some diabetic ulcers heal more quickly. The researchers tested their theory on 79 diabetes patients with ulcers on the top or bottom of their feet and compared grafts with standard gauze dressings. The grafts were created by taking skin samples from each patient and then growing the skin cells in a laboratory to form a sheet that could be used to cover the ulcer. The results, reported in Diabetes Care
(October 2003), showed that 67% of skin-grafted ulcers on the top of the foot healed, compared with 31% of gauze-treated ulcers. Of the ulcers on the bottom of the foot, 52% healed regardless of the type of treatment.