By the same authors

From the same journal

From the same journal

From the same journal

Therapeutic ultrasound for venous leg ulcers

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

Published copy (DOI)



Publication details

JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
DatePublished - 2008
Issue number1
Number of pages27
Pages (from-to)-
Original languageEnglish



Venous leg ulceration is a common problem, representing a significant burden on the patient and the healthcare system. They are caused by venous insufficiency and tend to be chronic and recurring.

Management usually includes use of wound dressings plus compression stockings or bandages. It has been suggested that therapeutic ultrasound may have an adjuvant effect and promote healing however its effects are unclear.

Objectives To determine whether therapeutic ultrasound increases the healing of venous leg ulcers.

Search strategy

We searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (August 2007), The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) - The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2007, Ovid MEDLINE - 1950 to July Week 4 2007, Ovid EMBASE - 1980 to 2007 Week 31, Ovid CINAHL - 1982 to August Week 1 2007.

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing therapeutic ultrasound with placebo (sham) ultrasound, or other (standard) treatment.

Data collection and analysis

Two authors independently assessed the results of the searches for eligible RCTs and obtained full reports. A third author assessed the results of the update searches for eligible RCTs. Details from the eligible studies were extracted and summarised by a review author using a data extraction sheet. Attempts were made to contact trial authors to obtain missing data or for clarification.

Main results

A total of eight eligible trials were identified and were all of either medium or high risk of bias. Five trials compared ultrasound therapy with placebo (sham) ultrasound, three trials compared ultrasound therapy with standard treatment. Trials varied in terms of ulcer size, regimen and duration of follow up. No trials individually found a statistically significant difference in the number of ulcers healed between any of the therapies, however on pooling trials (different durations of follow up) for the outcome of risk healing, significantly more ulcers were completely healed with ultrasound (RR 1.49, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.09). Some trials also found that ultrasound increases the rate of change of wound size and/ or reduces the size of existing ulcers, whilst other trials did not find this effect to be significant. When all trials reporting percentage ulcer area remaining were pooled there was a significant benefit associated with ultrasound (WMD - 5.34%, 95% CI - 8.38 to - 2.30).

Authors' conclusions

The available evidence suggests that ultrasound may increase healing of venous leg ulcers. These conclusions are based on the results of only eight small studies of generally poor quality and therefore should be interpreted with caution.

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