Washington: Researchers have developed a new method for treating chronic wounds using a novel ultrasound applicator that can be worn like a band-aid.
The applicator delivers low-frequency, low-intensity ultrasound directly to wounds, and was found to significantly accelerate healing in five patients with venous ulcers.
Venous ulcers are caused when valves in the veins malfunction, causing blood to pool in the leg instead of returning to the heart.
This pooling, called venous stasis, can cause proteins and cells in the vein to leak into the surrounding tissue leading to inflammation and formation of an ulcer.
The technology was developed by researchers at Drexel University, Philadelphia, with funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Standard treatment for venous ulcers involves controlling swelling, taking care of the wound by keeping it moist, preventing infection, and compression therapy-a technique in which patients wear elastic socks that squeeze the leg to prevent blood from flowing backwards. Despite these measures, wounds often take months and occasionally years to heal.
The Drexel researchers report that patients who received low-frequency, low-intensity ultrasound treatment during their weekly check-up (in addition to standard compression therapy), showed a net reduction in wound size after just four weeks.
In contrast, patients who didn`t receive ultrasound treatment had an average increase in wound size during the same time period.
The research is set to be published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.