Healing times for skin ulcers and bedsores particularly among diabetics and the elderly can be reduced by a third with the use of low-intensity ultrasound, a study says.
The low-intensity ultrasound that transmits vibration through the skin and wakes up cells in wounds, helps to stimulate and accelerate the healing process.
The ultrasound treatment also reduces the chance of wounds getting infected, and is particularly effective when treating diabetics and the elderly.
"Using ultrasound wakes up the cells and stimulates a normal healing process because it is just speeding up the normal processes, and the treatment does not carry the risk of side effects often associated with drug treatments," said lead author Mark Bass of the Centre for Membrane Interactions and Dynamics (CMIAD), University of Sheffield.
A quarter of diabetics suffer from skin ulcers, particularly foot ulcers, due to the loss of sensation and circulation in the legs.
"Skin ulcers are excruciatingly painful for patients and in many cases can only be resolved by amputation of the limb," Bass said.
The study appeared in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
"Now that we have proven the effectiveness of ultrasound we need to explore the signal further," Bass said adding, "the ultrasound signal we currently use is effective, but it is possible that by refining the treatment we could improve the effects even further."
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"Because ultrasound is relatively risk free we could expect to see it in broad clinical use within three or four years," Bass said.