Doubts Thrown on Wound Care: New Study Reveals Flawed Research

First Posted: Dec 24, 2013 10:12 AM EST

Treating chronic skin wounds, such as skin ulcers, has been the subject of research for years. Now, a recent study has shown that a total of 66 research papers on the subject are so technically flawed, that their results are unreliable. Not only that, but the papers that did pass muster only hold weak evidence that some treatments work better than standard compression therapy or special stockings. The findings shed new light on the treatment of these wounds.

Each year, an estimated $25 billion is spent in the United States treating chronic skin wounds related mostly to poor blood circulation, disorders known as venous ulcers. Their prevalence is rising with rates of diabetes and obesity, which means that it's crucial to learn exactly how to treat them.

In order to assess current treatments, the researchers identified 10,066 citations that were possibly related to wound care. They found that only 66 of these papers specifically addressed their questions about the effectiveness of treatments. They then analyzed clinical outcomes involving wound dressings, antibiotics and venous surgery.

So what did they find? The scientists discovered that dresses that used living human cells increased wound healing. They also found that results suggested cadexomer iodine and collagen might also increase healing. Yet there was no evidence that other dressing worked. In addition, the researchers stressed that for now, support stockings must remain the standard of care for treating chronic venous ulcers.

That's not all, though. The researchers found that evidence is inconclusive about using systemic antibiotics unless there are demonstrated signs of infections. Evidence is also inconclusive about surgical treatments such as radiofrequency ablation, endovenous laser treatment and sclerotherapy helped healing.

"There is a critical need for well-designed research studies to compare the current minimally invasive surgical interventions to the gold standard of care, compression therapy," said Gerald Lazarus, one of the researchers, in a news release.

The findings are important for better understanding wound care. In addition, they reveal that further studies are needed to assess current treatments.

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