Medical

Ultrasound cuts healing time of chronic wounds by 30 percent

Researchers discovered that applying the vibrations of an ultrasound served to stimulate a certain pathway that substitutes for the regular fibroblast migration route and recruits the cells to the wound bed
Researchers discovered that applying the vibrations of an ultrasound served to stimulate a certain pathway that substitutes for the regular fibroblast migration route and recruits the cells to the wound bed
View 1 Image
Researchers discovered that applying the vibrations of an ultrasound served to stimulate a certain pathway that substitutes for the regular fibroblast migration route and recruits the cells to the wound bed
1/1
Researchers discovered that applying the vibrations of an ultrasound served to stimulate a certain pathway that substitutes for the regular fibroblast migration route and recruits the cells to the wound bed

Further to the mental anguish, a lot of time in a hospital bed can bring about some agonizing physical discomfort. This is most commonly brought about by skin ulcers and bedsores, which threaten to evolve into dangerous and potentially deadly infections if left untreated. But a British research team has happened upon a technique that promises to cut the healing time of these and other chronic wounds by around a third, using simple low-intensity ultrasounds.

Wound healing presents a serious problem for two demographics in particular, the elderly and those with diabetes. When a young and healthy person incurs an injury to the skin, connective tissue cells called fibroblasts migrate to the site of the wound and kick-off the healing process. But skin defects that are typical of above groups prevent the migration of fibroblasts and make healing problematic, sometimes leading to amputation.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield and the University of Bristol say that low-intensity ultrasounds can overcome this deficiency. In a new study, the team discovered that applying the vibrations of an ultrasound served to stimulate a certain pathway that substitutes for the regular fibroblast migration route and recruits the cells to the wound bed. It found the technique reduced healing times by 30 percent in aged and diabetic mice, where it restored their healing ability to that of young and healthy animals.

The team also observed that the technique could be successfully replicated in human venous leg ulcer patients, indicating that it could be applicable to other chronic human wounds. And because it is modelled on what is already a natural process, there would be little chance of complications.

"Using ultrasound wakes up the cells and stimulates a normal healing process," says lead author of the study, Dr Mark Bass. "Because it is just speeding up the normal processes, the treatment doesn't carry the risk of side effects that are often associated with drug treatments."

It is for this reason that Bass imagines the technique could find clinical use within three or four years. The team will now look to refine the treatment with a view to improving its effects.

The research was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Source: University of Sheffield

5 comments
StWils
This idea needs to be tried out on dental braces to speed up bone movement and reduce the strain of braces. In the 1950s researchers in the US used small pulsed electrical charges to accelerate bone movement but the acceleration caused occlusion of the canal in the upper & lower jaw that contains the nerve and blood vessels supplying teeth. As a result "Electric Braces" were abandoned for good reason. Now there are cheap microprocessors that can easily provide a logically controlled pulse effect to accomplish the best degree of movement without causing occlusion of the canals. There may well be a middle ground producing the an excellent result at a low cost and with no downside effects. The tools available now are far better than those in the 50s and this idea should be revisited. More than soft tissue can be motivated and both an ultrasound and a small electric pulse should work well when used in tandem.
John Kline Kurtz
A doctor in Birmingham, AL used an ultrasound to diagnose a stress fracture in my heal. And it sure did seem to encourage the healing process. I had very little relief for three weeks up to that point, but after that appointment, I began to notice improvement.
gizmagreader
@StWils: Can you post details of that 1950s Electric Braces? Were they designed to stimulate jaw growth i.e. make it longer?
Murphy
Low Frequency Ultrasound wound debridement (LFUWD) is a procedure that has been available to patients with chronic non-healing wounds for many years in Australia. The procedure is carried out using local anaesthetic to the ulcer. The ultrasonic action selectively dislodges bacteria breaking up the wound surface bio-film to produce a vibrant wound bed able to heal. This is virtually a bloodless procedure.Wound healing generally takes between 5 to 8 cycles, once or twice a week. The wound healing success rate is phenomenal with around 80% of all wounds being fully healed and the remainder showing marked improvement. There is an Advanced Wound Care Clinic offering this ultrasonic treatment on the Central Coast of NSW Australia. It has been operating for four years now. The results for patients are life changing
P17
Intrasonic massagers were invented in the 1950s in Denmark. They're commercially available as Novasonic and have been used by elite sports teams to help accelerate repair of injuries for many years. In fact, you can go into your local pharmacy and buy one for about £ 120. I know, I have one, and over the last 15 years it's been amazing having been used on countless youth football (soccer) players' injuries (in teams I've coached) and on my own and family's injuries.
Thanks for reading our articles. Please consider subscribing to New Atlas Plus.
By doing so you will be supporting independent journalism, plus you will get the benefits of a faster, ad-free experience.