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J Orthop Trauma. 1999 May;13(4):252-7.

No effect of low-intensity ultrasound on healing time of intramedullary fixed tibial fractures.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Uppsala University Hospital, Sweden.



To determine whether stimulation with low-intensity ultrasound will reduce the radiologic healing time of fresh tibial shaft fractures fixed with a reamed and statically locked intramedullary rod.


Prospective, randomized, double blinded, and placebo controlled.


Thirty-two adult patients were included, fifteen in the active ultrasound group and seventeen in the placebo group. They all used an ultrasound device twenty minutes daily for seventy-five days without knowing whether it was active or inactive. Standardized radiographs were taken every third week until healing and at six and twelve months. All radiographs were assessed blinded and independently by a radiologist and an orthopaedic surgeon. The codes were not broken until all fractures had healed and all radiographs had been evaluated.


The time until the first visible callus averaged 40+/-3 days for the active group and 37+/-3 days for the placebo (p=0.44). The healing time, defined as radiologic bridging of three cortices, was on average 155+/-22 days (median 113 days) for the active treatment group and 125+/-11 days (median 112 days) for the placebo group (p=0.76) as assessed by the radiologist and 128+/-13 days for the active group and 114+/-9 days for the placebo group (p=0.40) as evaluated by the orthopaedic surgeon.


We conclude that low-intensity ultrasound treatment did not shorten healing time in fresh tibial fractures treated with a reamed and statically locked intramedullary nail. Our results are not in accordance with previous findings reporting reduced healing time in nonoperatively treated tibial shaft fractures when subjected to ultrasound.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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