This website is intended for healthcare professionals and clinical researchers only. All of the treatments using LED phototherapy devices that are discussed on this website are in various stages of investigation and have not been approved by the FDA except where specifically stated.
A chronic wound is one that has failed to proceed through an orderly and timely reparative process to produce anatomic and functional integrity or that has proceeded through the repair process without establishing a sustained anatomic and functional result. These wounds can be painful, unsightly, malodorous, and can lead to depression, social isolation, and in some cases, amputation.
Chronic wounds represent a significant burden to patients, health care professionals, and healthcare systems around the world, costing billions of dollars. In the US alone, chronic wounds cost an estimated $20 billion annually. In Canada, it is estimated that for just pressure ulcers it costs $27,050(CN) per patient.
The number of people each year with chronic wounds is significant. In some countries, these patents outnumber those with cancer. It’s estimated that the number of chronic wound patients each year in Canada, the US and Europe total 10.6 million.
Although underlying causes of chronic wounds vary from patient to patient, they tend to occur in patients with:
- A history of smoking
- Prolonged pressure (bed sores)
- Poor circulation
For chronic wound sufferers, the healing process can be long and frustrating. Some chronic wounds can take years to heal while others never will.
There are 3 common types of chronic wounds. They are:
- Diabetic Foot Ulcers – caused by diabetes and are responsible for most foot and leg amputations
- Pressure Ulcers – the result from ischemia due to prolonged pressure over a bony prominence. They typically occur in paralyzed or unconscious patients who are unable to either sense or respond to the need for periodic repositioning
- Venous Stasis Ulcers – the result from hypoxia in areas of venous congestion in the lower extremity
Diabetic foot ulcers represent the largest group of patients, followed by pressure ulcers and then venous ulcers. In the US diabetic foot ulcers are 37.5% of chronic wound ulcers, followed by pressure ulcers at 31.3% and venous stasis ulcers at 22.5%.
Current Treatments and Issues
Treatment is dependent upon where the wound is, the severity and if there is an underlying condition causing or exacerbating the wound.
- Medication: An antibiotic may be prescribed to fight infection. It can be administered through an IV, as a pill, or may be applied directly to the wound. Other medicines may be prescribed to decrease pain and fever.
- Debridement: Debridement is done to remove anything from the wound that can delay healing and lead to infection such as dead tissue, dirt, or debris of any kind. Methods include cutting out damaged areas of skin around the wound, draining the wound to clean out pus, or the use of moist or enzyme treated bandages that are places inside the wound.
- Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT): This therapy is also called wound vacuum, or wound-vac, therapy. A vacuum device uses suction to remove fluid and waste from a wound and pull the edges closer together. NPWT may also increase blood flow and new tissue growth in the wound.
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO): In a hyperbaric oxygen therapy room, the air pressure is increased by up to three times higher than normal air pressure. These conditions enable the patient’s lungs to gather up to three times more oxygen than would be possible breathing oxygen at normal air pressure. Blood then carries the oxygen through the body, stimulating the release growth factors and stem cells, which promotes healing. Multiple treatments are sometimes necessary.