Post: Using AI to Transform Diabetic Foot and Limb Preservation- David Armstrong

On April 10, Medscape and MDedge featured commentary by David Armstrong, PhD, DPM, a podiatric surgeon with Keck Medicine and professor of surgery, on using AI in diabetic foot and limb preservation treatment.

David G. Armstrong, DPM, MD, PhD,

April 08, 2024

Diabetic foot complications represent a major global health challenge, with a high prevalence among patients with diabetes. A diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) not only affects the patient’s quality of life but also increases the risk for amputation.

Worldwide, a DFU occurs every second, and an amputation occurs every 20 seconds. The limitations of current detection and intervention methods underline the urgent need for innovative solutions. 

Recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have paved the way for individualized risk prediction models for chronic wound management. These models use deep learning algorithms to analyze clinical data and images, providing personalized treatment plans that may improve healing outcomes and reduce the risk for amputation. 

AI-powered tools can also be deployed for the diagnosis of diabetic foot complications. Using image analysis and pattern recognition, AI tools are learning to accurately detect signs of DFUs and other complications, facilitating early and effective intervention. Our group and others have been working not only on imaging devices but also on thermographic tools that — with the help of AI — can create an automated “foot selfie” to predict and prevent problems before they start. 

AI’s predictive capabilities are instrumental to its clinical value. By identifying patients at high risk for DFUs, healthcare providers can implement preemptive measures, significantly reducing the likelihood of severe complications.

Although the potential benefits of AI in diabetic foot care are immense, integrating these tools into clinical practice poses challenges. These include ensuring the reliability of AI predictions, addressing data privacy concerns, and training healthcare professionals on the use of AI technologies.

As in so many other areas in our lives, AI holds the promise to revolutionize diabetic foot and limb preservation, offering hope for improved patient outcomes through early detection, precise diagnosis, and personalized care. However, realizing this potential requires ongoing research, development, and collaboration across the medical and technological fields to ensure these innovative solutions can be effectively integrated into standard care practices. 


More Posts