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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1983 Mar;31(3):131-3.

A randomized placebo-controlled trial of ultraviolet light in the treatment of superficial pressure sores.


Ultraviolet (UV) light treatment of pressure sores enjoyed widespread popularity for many years, but recently its effectiveness has been increasingly questioned. Surprisingly, it appears that this form of treatment has never been tested by a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Eighteen patients residing in the Extended Care Unit of the Health Sciences Centre Hospital at the University of British Columbia and suffering from superficial pressure sores of recent onset were therefore randomly assigned to active and placebo treatment groups. Since treatment procedures appeared identical in both groups, both patients and hospital staff were blind as to individual allocation. Sixteen patients completed the study. Mean time to complete healing was 6.3 weeks in the UV treated group, significantly (P less than .02) less than the mean of 8.4 weeks in the placebo group. This difference persisted unchanged when each patient's age and the initial size of the sore were taken into account by an analysis of covariance. Thus, in spite of growing skepticism about its effectiveness, it appears that UV light may play a useful role in the treatment of pressure sores, and a systematic evaluation of different treatment protocols seems to be justified.

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