Ultrasound heals wounds fast and fights infection

"Because ultrasound is relatively risk free, we could expect to see it in broad clinical use within three or four years," says Mark Bass. (Credit: iStockphoto)

Healing times for skin ulcers and bedsores can be reduced by a third with the use of low-intensity ultrasound, a new study shows.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield 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 diabetics and the elderly.

A quarter of diabetics suffer from skin ulcers, particularly foot ulcers, due to the loss of sensation and circulation in the legs.

“Skin ulcers are excruciatingly painful for patients and in many cases can only be resolved by amputation of the limb,” says Mark Bass from the Centre for Membrane Interactions and Dynamics at the University of Sheffield and the study’s lead author.

“Using ultrasound wakes up the cells and stimulates a normal healing process. Because it is just speeding up the normal processes, the treatment doesn’t carry the risk of side effects that are often associated with drug treatments.”

Bass says it may be possible to refine the treatment to 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.”

The study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, was carried out in collaboration with researchers from the University of Bristol, the Wound Biology Group at the Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering and Repair, and Bioventus LLC.

Source: University of Sheffield