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Ostomy Wound Manage. 2012 Mar;58(3):30-44.

Using high-voltage electrical stimulation in the treatment of recalcitrant pressure ulcers: results of a randomized, controlled clinical study .

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Department of Biophysics, Medical University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland.


 The use of electrical stimulation has been studied in a variety of wounds emphasizing different variables with regard to provision of therapy. The purpose of this prospective, randomized, controlled clinical study was to evaluate the effect of high-voltage electrical stimulation (HVES) on nonhealing, lower-extremity, Stage II and Stage III pressure ulcers. Patients admitted for care and eligible to participate in the study received standard supportive care and topical treatments covered with wet-to-moist dressings. Patients assigned to the treatment arm of the study also received HVES (100 V; 100 μs; 100 Hz) continuously for 50 minutes once daily, five times per week. Patients were followed until healing for a maximum of 6 weeks. Wound tracings and measurements were obtained weekly. Over a 4-year period, 26 patients were enrolled in the treatment and 24 in the control group. Ulcers had existed for an average of 3.17 and 2.83 months in the treatment and control groups, respectively. Most were classified as Stage II (17 in the treatment and 16 in the control group) with an average baseline size of 4.54 cm2 and 3.97 cm2, respectively. Wound areas and linear measurements decreased significantly in both groups (P <0.05), but increases in granulation tissue were significant in the treatment group only (P = 0.006). Wound area, linear measurement, wound volume, and granulation tissue changes were statistically significantly greater in the treatment than in the control group starting in the second week of treatment. Week 6 surface area change was 88.9% (SD 14) in the treatment and 44.4% (SD 63.1) in the control group (P = 0.00003). Correlation coefficients between changes in wound surface area, longest length, and longest width were R = 0.96 and R = 0.98 in the treatment and R = 0.94 and R = 0.89 in the control group. HVES improved the healing rate of recalcitrant Stage II and Stage III pressure ulcers. Research to compare the effectiveness of using cathodic and anodal stimulation combined or alone and to determine the optimal duration of these two types of electrical stimulation is warranted.

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