SLR - November 2011 - Sarah Edgar

The use of a portable, wearable form of pulsed radio frequency electromagnetic energy device for the healing of recalcitrant ulcers: a case report

Reference:  Rawe I , Vlahovic T. The use of a portable, wearable form of pulsed radio frequency electromagnetic energy device for the healing of recalcitrant ulcers: a case report. International Wound Journal. 2011; Published online ahead of print. 

Scientific Literature Review

Reviewed by: Sarah Edgar, DPM
Residency Program: Yale-New Haven Hospital/CT DVA

Podiatric Relevance: 
Chronic, non-healing wounds are an issue podiatrists deal with regularly in practice.  Maintaining an up to date knowledge of products that are currently available can aid physicians in treating these often problematic wounds.

Methods:
Large pulsed radio frequency energy (PRFE) devices have been used and researched before with success in treating chronic diabetic and venous stasis ulcerations. In this small case series, a small 505 gram portable and wearable PRFE device was used.

This small study used the device on 3 diabetic ulcer patients and 1 venous stasis ulcer patient all of whom had an ulcer present for over 3 months and had failed conventional treatment. The device was used 6-8 hours per day for 6 weeks. The diabetic ulceration sites were covered with moist saline gauze and dry, sterile dressing throughout the treatment. The venous stasis ulceration patient continued compression therapy without any other wound care products. All patients performed daily dressing changes. Wounds were evaluated weekly for all patients, and diabetic wound patients had a sharp debridement and surgical scrub done at the weekly visit.

Results:
At week one, all patients had a decrease in size of the wound as well as a decrease in periwound edema. Two of the patients were closed by the end of week three.  One of these patients originally presented with venous stasis ulceration and had significant pain relief by the end of week two. The other two patients had a decrease in wound size of 88% and 95% by the end of six weeks and both went on to successfully close their wounds with the use of the device after the completion of the study.

Conclusions:
Results of this small study show that lightweight, wearable PRFE devices may show promise as an adjunct in difficult to treat wounds, as 4 of 4 chronic wounds significantly decreased in size while using the device over a 6 week period without additional changes in the care of their wound. Patients tolerated the device without any complaints or noted negative side effects, and all noted the ease of use of the therapy at home.  The authors note the need for further, larger prospective studies on this developing therapy.

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