• Intermittent pneumatic compression for treating venous leg ulcers

      Nelson, E.A.; Mani, R.; Vowden, Kath (2008)
      BACKGROUND: Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) is a mechanical method of delivering compression to swollen limbs that can be used to treat venous leg ulcers and limb swelling due to lymphoedema. This review analyses the evidence for the effectiveness of IPC as a treatment for venous leg ulcers. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether IPC increases the healing of venous leg ulcers. To determine the effects of IPC on health related quality of life of venous leg ulcer patients. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (December 2007); the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) - The Cochrane Library Issue 4, 2007; Ovid MEDLINE - 2006 to November Week 2 2007; Ovid EMBASE - 2006 to 2007 Week 49 and Ovid CINAHL - 2006 to December Week 1 2007. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled studies either comparing IPC with control (sham IPC or no IPC) or comparisons between IPC treatment regimens, in venous ulcer management were included. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data extraction and assessment of study quality were undertaken by one author and checked by a second. MAIN RESULTS: Seven randomised controlled trials (including 367 people in total) were identified. Only one trial reported both allocation concealment and blinded outcome assessment. In one trial (80 people) more ulcers healed with IPC than with dressings (62% vs 28%; p=0.002). Four trials compared IPC with compression against compression alone. The first of these trials (45 people) found increased ulcer healing with IPC plus compression than with compression alone (relative risk for healing 11.4, 95% Confidence Interval 1.6 to 82). The remaining three trials (122 people) found no evidence of a benefit for IPC plus compression compared with compression alone. One small trial (16 people) found no difference between IPC (without additional compression) and compression bandages alone. One trial compared different ways of delivering IPC (104 people) and found that rapid IPC healed more ulcers than slow IPC (86% vs 61%; log rank p=0.003). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: IPC may increase healing compared with no compression, but it is not clear whether it increases healing when added to treatment with bandages, or if it can be used instead of compression bandages. Rapid IPC was better than slow IPC in one trial. Further trials are required to determine whether IPC increases the healing of venous leg ulcers when used in modern practice where compression therapy is widely used.