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Electromagnetic therapy for treating pressure ulcers

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JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
DatePublished - 2006
Issue number2
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)-
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Background Pressure ulcers are defined as areas "of localized damage to the skin and underlying tissue caused by pressure, shear, friction and/or the combination of these". In the UK, pressure ulcers occur in 5 to 32% of District General Hospitals people and in 4 to 7% of people in community settings. Electromagnetic therapy, in which electrodes produce an electromagnetic field across the wound, may improve healing of chronic wounds such as pressure ulcers.

Objectives To assess the effects of electromagnetic therapy on the healing of pressure ulcers.

Search strategy For this first update, we searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register ( last searched October 2005); CENTRAL ( T h e Cochrane Library 2005, Issue 4); MEDLINE (1966 to October 2005); EMBASE (1980 to October 2005); and CINAHL (1982 to October 2005).

Selection criteria Randomised controlled trials comparing electromagnetic therapy with sham electromagnetic therapy, or other ( standard) treatment.

Data collection and analysis For this first update, two authors independently scrutinized the results of the search to identify relevant RCTs and obtained full reports of potentially eligible studies. For the original review, details of eligible studies were extracted and summarised using a data extraction sheet. Attempts were made to obtain missing data by contacting authors. Data extraction was checked by a second author. Meta-analysis was applied to combine the results of trials when the interventions and outcome measures were sufficiently similar.

Main results This update identified no new trials. Two RCTs were identified for inclusion in the original review ( total of 60 participants). One was a three-armed study comparing electromagnetic therapy with electromagnetic therapy in combination with standard therapy, and with standard therapy alone, on 17 female and 13 male with grade II and III pressure ulcers. The other study compared electromagnetic therapy with sham therapy in 30 male participants with a spinal cord injury and a grade II or grade III pressure ulcer. Neither study found a statistically significant difference between the healing rates of pressure ulcers in people treated with electromagnetic therapy compared with those in the control group.

Authors' conclusions The results provide no evidence of benefit in using electromagnetic therapy to treat pressure ulcers. However, the possibility of a beneficial or harmful effect cannot be ruled out, due to the fact that there were only two included trials both with methodological limitations and small numbers of participants. Further research is recommended.

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