The efficacy of electrical stimulation in lower extremity cutaneous wound healing: a systematic review

Mohammed Hayat Ashrafi, Teresa Alonso Rasgado, Mo Baguneid, Ardeshir Bayat

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Current gold standard lower extremity cutaneous wound management is not always effective. Cutaneous wounds generate a “current of injury” which is directly involved in wound healing processes. Application of exogenous electrical stimulation has been hypothesised to imitate the natural electric current that occurs in cutaneous wounds. The aim of this extensive review was to provide a detailed update on the variety of electrical stimulation modalities used in the management of lower extremity wounds. Several different waveforms and delivery methods of electrical stimulation have been used. Pulsed current appears superior to other electrical modalities available. The majority of studies support the beneficial effects of pulsed current over conservative management of lower extremity cutaneous wounds. Although it appears to have no benefit over causal surgical intervention, it is a treatment option which could be utilised in those patients unsuitable for surgery. Other waveforms and modalities appear promising; however, they still lack large trial data to recommend a firm conclusion with regards to their use. Current studies also vary in quantity, quality and protocol across the different modalities. The ideal electrical stimulation device needs to be non-invasive, portable and cost-effective and provides minimal interference with patients’ daily life. Further studies are necessary to establish the ideal electrical stimulation modality, parameters, method of delivery and duration of treatment. The development and implementation of newer devices in the management of acute and chronic wounds provides an exciting direction in the field of electrotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Dermatology
Issue number2
Early online date30 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2017


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