Potential prognostic factors for delayed healing of common, non-traumatic skin ulcers: a scoping review

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Background: Healing of non-traumatic skin ulcers is often suboptimal. Prognostic tools that identify people at high risk of delayed healing within the context of routine ulcer assessments may improve this, but robust evidence on which factors to include is lacking. Therefore, we scoped the literature to identify which potentially prognostic factors may warrant future systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
Methods: We conducted electronic searches in MEDLINE and Embase to identify studies in English published between 1997-2017 that tested the association between healing of the three most common non-traumatic skin ulcers encountered by healthcare professionals (venous leg, diabetic foot and pressure ulcers) and patient characteristics, ulcer characteristics and results from clinical investigations.
Results: We included 42 studies that investigated factors that may be associated with healing of venous leg ulcers (n=17), diabetic foot ulcers (n=15), and pressure ulcers (n=10). Across ulcer types, ulcer characteristics were most commonly reported as potential prognostic factors for healing (n=37), including the size of the ulcer area (n=29) and ulcer duration at first assessment (n=16). Thirty-five studies investigated the prognostic value of patient characteristics (n=35), including age (n=31), sex (n=30), diabetes (n=22), smoking status (n=15) and history of deep vein thrombosis (n=13). Twenty three studies reported results from clinical investigations as potential prognostic factors, with the majority regarding vessel quality.
Conclusion: Age, sex, diabetes, smoking status, history of deep vein thrombosis, ulcer area, and ulcer duration at time of first assessment warrant a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify their prognostic value for delayed ulcer healing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational wound journal
Early online date28 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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