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Ultrasound does not save on ulcer treatment costs

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Ultrasound should not be used to treat hard-to-heal leg ulcers, according to a study presented at last week’s RCN International Nursing Research Conference.

A randomised controlled trial presented by Andrea Nelson of the University of Leeds compared the cost-effectiveness of ultrasound with standard care for venous leg ulcers larger than 5cm or of more than six months’ duration.

The therapy is widely used in the US and Canada on a range of soft tissue injuries.

A total of 337 patients were randomised to receive either standard care plus weekly ultrasound for 12 weeks or standard care alone.

The study showed that ulcers of patients who received ultrasound took an average of 14.7 days longer to heal than those receiving standard care only. The cost of care for those receiving ultrasound was an average of £197.88 higher than for the control group. Ultrasound also had a negative impact on patients’ quality-adjusted life years.

The researchers concluded that ultrasound should not be adopted by the NHS for treatment of hard-to-heal venous leg ulcers.

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