Wound cleansing to help pressure ulcers heal.

Pressure ulcers (also called pressure sores, bed sores and decubitus ulcers) are areas of tissue damage that occur in the elderly, malnourished or acutely ill, who cannot reposition themselves. The three trials identified found no good evidence that cleansing pressure ulcers (bed sores) using a particular technique, or cleansing with a particular solution, helps healing. Very little research has studied the cleansing of pressure ulcers and therefore we are unable to draw any firm conclusions.

Authors' conclusions: 

We identified three small studies addressing cleansing of pressure ulcers. One reported a statistically significant improvement in pressure ulcer healing for wounds cleansed with saline spray containing Aloe vera, silver chloride and decyl glucoside (Vulnopur) compared with isotonic saline solution, a further study reported no statistically significant change in healing was seen when wounds were cleaned with water was compared with saline. A final study compared pulsatile lavage with sham and found a significantly greater reduction in ulcer volume at the end of the study period in the lavage group compared with the sham group. The authors conclude that there is no good trial evidence to support use of any particular wound cleansing solution or technique for pressure ulcers.

Read the full abstract...
Background: 

Pressure ulcers (also called pressure sores, bed sores and decubitus ulcers) are areas of tissue damage that occur in the elderly, malnourished or acutely ill, who cannot reposition themselves. Pressure ulcers impose a significant financial burden on health care systems and negatively affect quality of life. Wound cleansing is considered an important component of pressure ulcer care.

Objectives: 

This systematic review seeks to answer the following question: what is the effect of wound cleansing solutions and wound cleansing techniques on the rate of healing of pressure ulcers?

Search strategy: 

For this third update, we searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (searched 3 January 2013); The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2012, Issue 12); Ovid MEDLINE (2010 to November Week 3 2012); Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations December 31, 2012); Ovid EMBASE (2010 to 2012 Week 52); and EBSCO CINAHL (2010 to 21 December 2012).

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing wound cleansing with no wound cleansing, or different wound cleansing solutions, or different cleansing techniques, were eligible for inclusion if they reported an objective measure of pressure ulcer healing.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two review authors extracted data independently and resolved disagreements through discussion. A structured narrative summary of the included studies was conducted. For dichotomous outcomes, risk ratio (RR), plus 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated; for continuous outcomes, mean difference (MD), plus 95% CI were calculated. Meta analysis was not conducted because of the small number of diverse RCTs identified. Two review authors independently assessed each included study using the Cochrane Collaboration tool for assessing risk of bias.

Main results: 

One additional eligible study was identified from the updated searches, one study was added to the table of excluded studies. A total of three studies (169 participants) met the inclusion criteria for the review. No studies compared cleansing with no cleansing. Two studies compared different wound cleansing solutions. A statistically significant improvement in Pressure Sore Status Tool scores occurred for wounds cleansed with saline spray containing Aloe vera, silver chloride and decyl glucoside (Vulnopur) compared with isotonic saline (P value = 0.025), but no statistically significant change in healing was seen when water was compared with saline (RR 3.00, 95% CI 0.21 to 41.89). One study compared cleansing techniques; for pressure ulcers cleansed with pulsatile lavage, compared with sham (the lavage flow was directed into a wash basin positioned adjacent to the wound and not visible to the participants), there was a statistically significant reduction in ulcer volume at the end of the three week study period in the lavage group compared with the sham group (MD -6.60, 95% CI-11.23, -1.97).

Share/Save