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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Apr 19;(2):CD002933.

Electromagnetic therapy for treating venous leg ulcers.

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  • 1University of York, Department of Health Sciences, Postgraduate Area, HYMS Building, Heslington, York, North Yorkshire, UK, YO10 5DD. hr122@york.ac.uk

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Leg ulceration is a common, chronic, recurring condition. The estimated prevalence of leg ulcers in the UK population is 1.5 to 3 per 1000. Venous ulcers (also called stasis, or varicose ulcers) comprise 80 to 85% of all leg ulcers. Electromagnetic therapy is sometimes used as a treatment to assist the healing of chronic wounds such as venous leg ulcers.

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the effects of electromagnetic therapy on the healing of venous leg ulcers.

SEARCH STRATEGY:

For this first review update, we searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (last searched October 2005); CENTRAL (The 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 treatments.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:

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. A second reviewer checked data extraction. Meta-analysis was applied to combine the results of trials where the interventions and outcome measures were adequately similar. For this first update, two reviewers independently scrutinized the results of the search to identify relevant RCTs and obtained full reports of potentially eligible studies. In the case of disagreements, a final decision was made either after discussion between two reviewers or consultation with a third party (a member of the Cochrane Wounds Group).

MAIN RESULTS:

This update identified no new trials. A total of three eligible RCTs were identified by the original review. Two trials compared the use of electromagnetic therapy with sham therapy and one trial compared it with standard topical treatments. One trial found a difference in healing rates of borderline statistical significance between electromagnetic therapy and sham therapy, although the direction of treatment effect was consistently in favour of electromagnetic therapy, the difference was not statistically significant.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS:

There is currently no reliable evidence of benefit of electromagnetic therapy in the healing of venous leg ulcers. Further research is needed.

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