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Foam dressings for chronic complex wounds

Is their use evidence-based?


Chronic wounds associated with venous leg ulcers, bed sores and diabetes (diabetic ulcers of the feet) are very common. Their treatment is complex and intensive, and leads to high costs. Treatment guidelines for these problems recommend various (often expensive) wound dressings, produced by many different manufacturers, often without proven efficacy. The systematic review discussed here showed that there is currently no evidence for the efficacy of foam dressings. In practice, this means that choices are based merely on subjective arguments and arguments relating to the cost-effectiveness of applying foam dressings to treat chronic wounds. There is an urgent need for carefully designed research into the efficacy of the relatively expensive foam dressings, as well as of other wound treatments.

  • Guidelines offer care providers a choice of many different types of wound dressing for chronic wounds, without clear information on whether their efficacy has been proven.
  • No high-quality research is known in which the efficacy of foam dressings to treat venous leg ulcers, bed sores or diabetic ulcers of the feet is compared with that of other dressing materials.
  • The choice of using foam dressings for chronic wounds can only be based on subjective arguments, such as the personal preferences of the patients or care providers.
  • In view of the lack of evidence for their efficacy, cost considerations might provide an argument for avoiding the use of foam dressings and using traditional non-stick dressings instead.

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The literature refers to the Dutch text

Authors

  • mw S. van der Heijden MSc