A fibreglass heel cast does not improve heel ulcer healing

An important new study has been published, an extensive health technology assessment of lightweight fibreglass heel casts in the management of heel ulcers. Jeffcoate and colleagues from the UK investigated whether a simple, removable and lightweight fibreglass cast would speed up healing of heel ulcers, after having observed positive outcomes in a case series.

Health technology assessments are very rigorous and enormously detailed studies, and this one is no exception. You can read the full paper (free to download) here. Even the scientific summary is already two pages. Definitely worth a full-read though, and an example of high-quality science.

Against their expectations, the authors conclude that “although the provision of a lightweight heel cast may benefit some individuals, this study found no evidence to recommend that this be adopted in routine clinical practice.” Unfortunately, and despite their great efforts, other offloading methods to improve outcomes of heel ulcer healing are needed.