CODIFI (Concordance in Diabetic Foot Ulcer Infection): a cross-sectional study of wound swab versus tissue sampling in infected diabetic foot ulcers in England

Andrea Nelson*, Alexandra Wright-Hughes, Michael Ross Backhouse, Benjamin A. Lipsky, Jane Nixon, Moninder S. Bhogal, Catherine Reynolds, Sarah Brown, CODIFI collaborators

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)
132 Downloads (Pure)


Objective To determine the extent of agreement and patterns of disagreement between wound swab and tissue samples in patients with an infected diabetic foot ulcer (DFU). Design Multicentre, prospective, cross-sectional study. Setting Primary and secondary care foot ulcer/diabetic outpatient clinics and hospital wards across England. Participants Inclusion criteria: consenting patients aged ≥18 years; diabetes mellitus; suspected infected DFU. Exclusion criteria: clinically inappropriate to take either sample. Interventions Wound swab obtained using Levine's technique; tissue samples collected using a sterile dermal curette or scalpel. Outcome measures Coprimary: reported presence, and number, of pathogens per sample; prevalence of resistance to antimicrobials among likely pathogens. Secondary: recommended change in antibiotic therapy based on blinded clinical review; adverse events; sampling costs. Results 400 consenting patients (79% male) from 25 centres. Most prevalent reported pathogens were Staphylococcus aureus (43.8%), Streptococcus (16.7%) and other aerobic Gram-positive cocci (70.6%). At least one potential pathogen was reported from 70.1% of wound swab and 86.1% of tissue samples. Pathogen results differed between sampling methods in 58% of patients, with more pathogens and fewer contaminants reported from tissue specimens. The majority of pathogens were reported significantly more frequently in tissue than wound swab samples (P<0.01), with equal disagreement for S. aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Blinded clinicians more often recommended a change in antibiotic regimen based on tissue compared with wound swab results (increase of 8.9%, 95% CI 2.65% to 15.3%). Ulcer pain and bleeding occurred more often after tissue collection versus wound swabs (pain: 9.3%, 1.3%; bleeding: 6.8%, 1.5%, respectively). Conclusion Reports of tissue samples more frequently identified pathogens, and less frequently identified non-pathogens compared with wound swab samples. Blinded clinicians more often recommended changes in antibiotic therapy based on tissue compared with wound swab specimens. Further research is needed to determine the effect of the additional information provided by tissue samples. Trial registration number ISRCTN52608451.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere019437
Pages (from-to)e019437
Number of pages11
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2018


  • DFU
  • diabetic foot ulcer
  • cross-sectional study
  • diabetes mellitus
  • agreement
  • wound swab sample
  • tissue sample
  • diabetic foot infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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