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Case studies

Saving lives through early foot ulcer detection

NPL’s temperature team developed four clinical prototypes for podiatrists using breakthrough thermal imaging metrology.

The challenge

There are over 400 million diabetics in the world, 15% of whom are prone to diabetic foot ulcers, including skin breakdown, infection and, ultimately, amputation. There are 10 million people with diabetic foot ulcers in the world today. The outlook and impact of which are horrifying.

In the UK, there are more than 20 amputations a day, for those up to 50% are dead within 2 years. Diabetic foot ulcers cost the NHS £1.1 billion. Fortunately, temperature is an early indicator of ulceration, prior to any visible signs or skin breakdown – and NPL has experts who know how to measure temperature.

The solution

NPL’s team attracted a £1.2 million investment from the National Institute of Health Research: Product Development Award for developing a new device to meet this challenge. NPL’s team then proceeded to develop four clinical prototypes for podiatrists using breakthrough thermal imaging metrology.

The devices have now been through 2 years of registered multicentre randomised clinical trials: healthy subject, high risk diabetic patients proving equivalence with the current gold standard and suitability for diabetic patients.

They have also been assessed by key opinion leaders and found to meet a significant societal need. 

The impact

Following decisions on commercialisation route, spin-out or licencing, it will go on to impact millions of lives, reduce suffering and improving quality of life, and commercially it will create jobs and return millions of pounds to the economy. A 1% reduction in ulceration would save the NHS in the region of £10M.

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