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N Cullum *
Department of Health Studies, University of York, UK
* Corresponding author
Chronic wounds such as leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers and pressure sores are common in both acute and community healthcare settings. The prevention and treatment of these wounds involves many strategies: pressure-relieving beds, mattresses and cushions are universally used as measures for the prevention and treatment of pressure sores; compression therapy in a variety of forms is widely used for venous leg ulcer prevention and treatment; and a whole range of therapies involving laser, ultrasound and electricity is also applied to chronic wounds. This report covers the final three reviews from a series of seven.
To assess the clinical effectiveness and cost- effectiveness of:
Nineteen electronic databases, including MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (CENTRAL), were searched. Relevant journals, conference proceedings and bibliographies of retrieved papers were handsearched. An expert panel was also consulted.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which evaluated these interventions were eligible for inclusion in this review if they used objective measures of outcome such as wound incidence or healing rates.
Beds, mattresses and cushions for pressure sore prevention and treatment
A total of 45 RCTs were identified, of which 40 compared different mattresses, mattress overlays and beds. Only two trials evaluated cushions, one evaluated the use of sheepskins, and two looked at turning beds/kinetic therapy.
A total of 24 trials reporting 26 comparisons were were included (two of prevention and 24 of treatment strategies).
Low-level laser therapy, therapeutic ultrasound, electrotherapy and electromagnetic
Four RCTs of laser (for venous leg ulcers), 10 of therapeutic ultrasound (for pressure sores and venous leg ulcers), 12 of electrotherapy (for ischaemic and diabetic ulcers, and chronic wounds generally) and five of electromagnetic therapy (for venous leg ulcers and pressure sores) were included. Studies were generally small, and of poor methodological quality.
Cullum N, Nelson EA, Flemming K, Sheldon T. Systematic reviews of wound care management: (5) beds; (6) compression; (7) laser therapy, therapeutic ultrasound, electrotherapy and electromagnetic therapy. Health Technol Assess 2001;5(9).
The NHS R&D Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme was set up in 1993 to ensure that high-quality research information on the costs, effectiveness and broader impact of health technologies is produced in the most efficient way for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS.
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This has meant that the HTA panels can now focus more explicitly on health technologies ('health technologies' are broadly defined to include all interventions used to promote health, prevent and treat disease, and improve rehabilitation and long-term care) rather than settings of care. Therefore the panel structure has been redefined and replaced by three new panels: Pharmaceuticals; Therapeutic Procedures (including devices and operations); and Diagnostic Technologies and Screening.
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The research reported in this monograph was funded as project number 93/29/01.
The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Methodology Programme, HTA Programme or the Department of Health. The editors wish to emphasize that funding and publication of this research by the NHS should not be taken as implicit support for any recommendations made by the authors.
Criteria for inclusion in the HTA monograph series
Reports are published in the HTA monograph series if (1) they have resulted from work commissioned for the HTA Programme, and (2) they are of a sufficiently high scientific quality as assessed by the referees and editors.
Reviews in Health Technology Assessment are termed 'systematic' when the account of the search, appraisal and synthesis methods (to minimise biases and random errors) would, in theory, permit the replication of the review by others.
Methodology Programme Director: Professor Richard Lilford
HTA Programme Director: Professor Kent Woods
Series Editors: Professor Andrew Stevens, Dr Ken Stein, Professor John Gabbay and Dr Ruairidh Milne
Monograph Editorial Manager: Melanie Corris
The editors and publisher have tried to ensure the accuracy of this report but do not accept liability for damages or losses arising from material published in this report. They would like to thank the referees for their constructive comments on the draft document.
© 2001 Crown Copyright