New Study Reveals Use of Ultrasounds in Treating Diabetic Ulcers
Ultrasound has shown promise in treating diabetic ulcers.
Among the medical conditions that can affect your wound healing, diabetes is perhaps among the more prevalent. The high glucose levels associated with diabetes cause blood vessels to narrow and arteries to stiffen, eventually leading to a lack of blood flow to the affected area. One of the more common wounds related to diabetes is foot ulcers; in fact, over 15 percent of diabetic patients will eventually develop at least one ulcer in their lifetime.
Now, though, these patients have a potential new ally in their ongoing wound care treatment. According to a new study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, researchers might be able to use ultrasound to treat diabetic skin wounds.
A promising start
The study was led by Dr. Mark Bass, a dermatology lecturer at the U.K.’s University of Sheffield. Bass and his colleagues used low-intensity ultrasound on mice that had wounds similar to most diabetic ulcers. They found that the ultrasound helped to reduce the overall healing time by over 30 percent. If used on humans, that could mean a recovery and immobilization period of just four weeks instead of the standard six weeks. Bass noted that the ultrasound was so effective on the animals that their wounds healed as if they were far younger, effectively turning back their biological clock, as he described it.
“What the device is doing is waking up cells that have stopped responding,” Bass told EndocrineWeb. “Cells that should normally be moving to stop the hole in your skin have stopped moving. The ultrasound wakes them up again. It starts them moving.”
Bass and his team are now recruiting participants for human trials, and they could begin clinical treatment in as little as three years. However, he noted that they’d need to further experiment with ultrasound signals in order to refine the treatment and see if it can be made even more effective.
In September 2014, a research team at Stanford University explored similar uses for ultrasound, publishing its work in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Also using mice as patients, that team found equally promising results. In fact, wounds closed in just 17 days, compared to 24 days in those mice that only received frequent dressing changes. The Stanford collective noted that this could be due the stimulated release of angiogenic factors, those compounds that help the formation of all-new blood vessels.
Even with the results of these studies demonstrating ultrasound’s use in wound care management, it’s still an experimental procedure. Additionally, some research has found that ultrasound isn’t effective in healing all forms of wounds. According to a report from The Wound Healing Society, ultrasound therapy does not statistically improve venous leg ulcers. As such, ultrasound will have to undergo continued testing before it can become a widely accepted medical tool. However, for the many struggling with diabetic wounds, ultrasound does offer the promise of more effective treatment options.
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