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Ultrasound Accelerates Ulcer Healing

Healing times for bedsores and skin ulcers, including those related to diabetes, can be reduced by a third with the use of low-intensity ultrasound, scientists from England’s University of Sheffield (Sheffield) and University of Bristol (Bristol) have found. Researchers from Sheffield’s Department of Biomedical Science discovered the ultrasound transmits a vibration through the skin and “wakes up” cells in wounds, helping to stimulate and accelerate the healing process. The ultrasound treatment, which also reduces the chance of wounds getting infected, is particularly effective when treating those with diabetes and the elderly. The results of their study, in preliminary format, were published online June 16 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

“Skin ulcers are excruciatingly painful for patients and in many cases can only be resolved by amputation of the limb,” said lead author of the study Mark Bass, PhD, from Sheffield’s Centre for Membrane Interactions and Dynamics. “Because [ultrasound] is just speeding up the normal processes, the treatment doesn’t carry the risk of side effects that are often associated with drug treatments…. We have found that the ultrasound signal we currently use is effective, but it is possible that by refining the treatment we could improve the effects even further. Because ultrasound is relatively risk free we could expect to see it in broad clinical use within three or four years.”

Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by the University of Sheffield.