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1.  Cost-effectiveness of compression technologies for evidence-informed leg ulcer care: results from the Canadian Bandaging Trial 
Background
Venous leg ulcers, affecting approximately 1% of the population, are costly to manage due to poor healing and high recurrence rates. We evaluated an evidence-informed leg ulcer care protocol with two frequently used high compression systems: ‘four-layer bandage’ (4LB) and ‘short-stretch bandage’ (SSB).
Methods
We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis using individual patient data from the Canadian Bandaging Trial, a publicly funded, pragmatic, randomized trial evaluating high compression therapy with 4LB (n = 215) and SSB (n = 209) for community care of venous leg ulcers. We estimated costs (in 2009–2010 Canadian dollars) from the societal perspective and used a time horizon corresponding to each trial participant’s first year.
Results
Relative to SSB, 4LB was associated with an average 15 ulcer-free days gained, although the 95% confidence interval [−32, 21 days] crossed zero, indicating no treatment difference; an average health benefit of 0.009 QALYs gained [−0.019, 0.037] and overall, an average cost increase of $420 [$235, $739] (due to twice as many 4LB bandages used); or equivalently, a cost of $46,667 per QALY gained. If decision makers are willing to pay from $50,000 to $100,000 per QALY, the probability of 4LB being more cost effective increased from 51% to 63%.
Conclusions
Our findings differ from the emerging clinical and economic evidence that supports high compression therapy with 4LB, and therefore suggest another perspective on high compression practice, namely when delivered by trained registered nurses using an evidence-informed protocol, both 4LB and SSB systems offer comparable effectiveness and value for money.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00202267
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-346
PMCID: PMC3532083  PMID: 23031428
Randomized controlled trial; Cost-effectiveness; Leg ulcers; Compression therapy; Community care
2.  Leg ulcer nursing care in the community: a prospective cohort study of the symptom of pain 
BMC Nursing  2013;12:3.
Background
Chronic wounds are managed almost entirely by community nurses. Almost all individuals with leg ulcers report acute pain usually related to dressing change. Little is known about pain after healing. The purpose of this study was to explore the course of pain from baseline to time of healing of leg ulcers (venous or mixed etiology). In order to understand this phenomenon and develop implications for nursing practice, objectives included: 1) Measure incidence and prevalence of pain at baseline and healing; 2) Describe characteristics associated with leg ulcer pain at baseline; 3) Identify predictors of leg ulcer pain at healing.
Methods
Data were from one randomized controlled trial (2004-2008) of 424 individuals with leg ulcers in the community receiving evidence-informed nursing management. The primary outcome was pain at the time of healing. Predictive factors included demographic, circumstance of living, clinical and ulcer characteristics. Multivariable logistic regression identified the subset of predictors of pain at healing. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) are reported.
Results
Eighty-two percent of participants reported pain at baseline and 32% at healing. Five percent with no pain at baseline reported pain at healing. Thirty-seven percent reported moderate to severe pain at baseline and 11% at healing. Twenty percent of all those who healed reported pain interfered with work moderately to extremely at time of healing. Being female (OR=1.64, 95% CI 1.00, 2.68, p=0.05), use of short-stretch vs. four-layer bandages (OR=1.73, 95% CI 1.06, 2.82, p=0.03), lower SF-12 PCS (OR=0.97, 95% CI 0.94, 0.99, p=0.02) and MCS (OR=0.98, 95% CI 0.95-1.00, p=0.04) scores, use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (OR=2.28, 95% CI 1.06, 4.88, p=0.03), and tender pain (OR=2.17, 95% CI 1.29, 3.66, p=<0.01) were associated with pain at time of healing.
Conclusions
Pain is an issue on admission for chronic wounds and at healing, yet 58% with moderate to severe pain on admission were not taking pain medication(s). Future studies should examine the role of pain at healing and at subsequent ulcer recurrence. Mobility and other factors that may contribute to pain at time of healing should also be assessed. Community nurses are encouraged to consider pain when planning care on admission and also after wound healing, when most patients are discharged from care.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00202267
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-12-3
PMCID: PMC3598712  PMID: 23388350
Pain; Health-related quality of life; Chronic conditions; Leg ulcers; Community care nursing; Longitudinal study, Canada
3.  Venous leg ulcers 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:1902.
Introduction
Leg ulcers usually occur secondary to venous reflux or obstruction, but 20% of people with leg ulcers have arterial disease, with or without venous disorders. Between 1.5 and 3.0/1000 people have active leg ulcers. Prevalence increases with age to about 20/1000 in people aged over 80 years.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of standard treatments, adjuvant treatments, and organisational interventions for venous leg ulcers? What are the effects of advice about self-help interventions in people receiving usual care for venous leg ulcers? What are the effects of interventions to prevent recurrence of venous leg ulcers? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to June 2011 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 101 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: compression bandages and stockings, cultured allogenic (single or bilayer) skin replacement, debriding agents, dressings (cellulose, collagen, film, foam, hyaluronic acid-derived, semi-occlusive alginate), hydrocolloid (occlusive) dressings in the presence of compression, intermittent pneumatic compression, intravenous prostaglandin E1, larval therapy, laser treatment (low-level), leg ulcer clinics, multilayer elastic system, multilayer elastomeric (or non-elastomeric) high-compression regimens or bandages, oral treatments (aspirin, flavonoids, pentoxifylline, rutosides, stanozolol, sulodexide, thromboxane alpha2 antagonists, zinc), peri-ulcer injection of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, self-help (advice to elevate leg, to keep leg active, to modify diet, to stop smoking, to reduce weight), short-stretch bandages, single-layer non-elastic system, skin grafting, superficial vein surgery, systemic mesoglycan, therapeutic ultrasound, and topical treatments (antimicrobial agents, autologous platelet lysate, calcitonin gene-related peptide plus vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, freeze-dried keratinocyte lysate, mesoglycan, negative pressure, recombinant keratinocyte growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor).
Key Points
Leg ulcers are usually secondary to venous reflux or obstruction, but 20% of people with leg ulcers have arterial disease, with or without venous disorders.
Compression bandages and stockings heal more ulcers compared with no compression, but we don't know which bandaging technique is most effective. Compression is used for people with ulcers caused by venous disease who have an adequate arterial supply to the foot, and who don't have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.The effectiveness of compression bandages depends on the skill of the person applying them.We don't know whether intermittent pneumatic compression is beneficial compared with compression bandages or stockings.
Occlusive (hydrocolloid) dressings are no more effective than simple low-adherent dressings in people treated with compression, but we don't know whether semi-occlusive dressings are beneficial.
Peri-ulcer injections of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor may increase healing, but we don't know whether other locally applied agents are beneficial, as we found few trials.
Oral pentoxifylline increases ulcer healing in people receiving compression, and oral flavonoids, sulodexide, and mesoglycan may also be effective. We don't know whether therapeutic ultrasound, oral aspirin, rutosides, thromboxane alpha2 antagonists, zinc, debriding agents, intravenous prostaglandin E1, superficial vein surgery, skin grafting, topical antimicrobial agents, leg ulcer clinics, laser treatment, or advice to elevate legs, increase activity, lose weight, change diet, or give up smoking increase healing of ulcers in people treated with compression. Larval therapy is not likely to be beneficial as it has no impact on healing and is painful.
Compression bandages and stockings reduce recurrence of ulcers compared with no compression, and should ideally be worn for life. Superficial vein surgery may also reduce recurrence, but we don't know whether systemic drug treatment is effective.
PMCID: PMC3275133  PMID: 22189344
4.  Use of weekly, low dose, high frequency ultrasound for hard to heal venous leg ulcers: the VenUS III randomised controlled trial 
Objective To assess the clinical effectiveness of weekly delivery of low dose, high frequency therapeutic ultrasound in conjunction with standard care for hard to heal venous leg ulcers.
Design Multicentre, pragmatic, two arm randomised controlled trial.
Setting Community and district nurse led services, community leg ulcer clinics, and hospital outpatient leg ulcer clinics in 12 urban and rural settings (11 in the United Kingdom and one in the Republic of Ireland).
Participants 337 patients with at least one venous leg ulcer of >6 months’ duration or >5 cm2 area and an ankle brachial pressure index of ≥0.8.
Interventions Weekly administration of low dose, high frequency ultrasound therapy (0.5 W/cm2, 1 MHz, pulsed pattern of 1:4) for up to 12 weeks plus standard care compared with standard care alone.
Main outcome measures Primary outcome was time to healing of the largest eligible leg ulcer. Secondary outcomes were proportion of patients healed by 12 months, percentage and absolute change in ulcer size, proportion of time participants were ulcer-free, health related quality of life, and adverse events.
Results The two groups showed no significant difference in the time to healing of the reference leg ulcer (log rank test, P=0.61). After adjustment for baseline ulcer area, baseline ulcer duration, use of compression bandaging, and study centre, there was still no evidence of a difference in time to healing (hazard ratio 0.99 (95% confidence interval 0.70 to 1.40), P=0.97). The median time to healing of the reference leg ulcer was inestimable. There was no significant difference between groups in the proportion of participants with all ulcers healed by 12 months (72/168 in ultrasound group v 78/169 in standard care group, P=0.39 for Fisher’s exact test) nor in the change in ulcer size at four weeks by treatment group (model estimate 0.05 (95% CI –0.09 to 0.19)). There was no difference in time to complete healing of all ulcers (log rank test, P=0.61), with median time to healing of 328 days (95% CI 235 to inestimable) with standard care and 365 days (224 days to inestimable) with ultrasound. There was no evidence of a difference in rates of recurrence of healed ulcers (17/31 with ultrasound v 14/31 with standard care, P=0.68 for Fisher’s exact test). There was no difference between the two groups in health related quality of life, both for the physical component score (model estimate 0.69 (–1.79 to 3.08)) and the mental component score (model estimate –0.93 (–3.30 to 1.44)), but there were significantly more adverse events in the ultrasound group (model estimate 0.30 (0.01 to 0.60)). There was a significant relation between time to ulcer healing and baseline ulcer area (hazard ratio 0.64 (0.55 to 0.75)) and baseline ulcer duration (hazard ratio 0.59 (0.50 to 0.71)), with larger and older ulcers taking longer to heal. In addition, those centres with high recruitment rates had the highest healing rates.
Conclusions Low dose, high frequency ultrasound administered weekly for 12 weeks during dressing changes in addition to standard care did not increase ulcer healing rates, affect quality of life, or reduce ulcer recurrence.
Trial registration ISRCTN21175670 and National Research Register N0484162339
doi:10.1136/bmj.d1092
PMCID: PMC3050437  PMID: 21385806
5.  Cost effectiveness of community leg ulcer clinics: randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;316(7143):1487-1491.
Objectives: To establish the relative cost effectiveness of community leg ulcer clinics that use four layer compression bandaging versus usual care provided by district nurses.
Design: Randomised controlled trial with 1 year of follow up.
Setting: Eight community based research clinics in four trusts in Trent.
Subjects: 233 patients with venous leg ulcers allocated at random to intervention (120) or control (113) group.
Interventions: Weekly treatment with four layer bandaging in a leg ulcer clinic (clinic group) or usual care at home by the district nursing service (control group).
Main outcome measures: Time to complete ulcer healing, patient health status, and recurrence of ulcers. Satisfaction with care, use of services, and personal costs were also monitored.
Results: The ulcers of patients in the clinic group tended to heal sooner than those in the control group over the whole 12 month follow up (log rank P=0.03). At 12 weeks, 34% of patients in the clinic group were healed compared with 24% in the control. The crude initial healing rate of ulcers in intervention compared with control patients was 1.45 (95% confidence interval 1.04 to 2.03). No significant differences were found between the groups in health status. Mean total NHS costs were £878.06 per year for the clinic group and £859.34 for the control (P=0.89).
Conclusions: Community based leg ulcer clinics with trained nurses using four layer bandaging is more effective than traditional home based treatment. This benefit is achieved at a small additional cost and could be delivered at reduced cost if certain service configurations were used.
Key messages Leg ulcer clinics based in the community using four layer compression bandaging can be more clinically effective than usual care provided by the district nursing service Community based leg ulcer clinics could be provided more cost effectively than usual home based care for venous leg ulcers Recurrence of venous leg ulcers is an important variable that should be measured in future trials of venous leg ulcer care It is difficult to measure improvements in health related quality of life among people with venous leg ulcers
PMCID: PMC28546  PMID: 9582132
6.  A prospective randomised trial of four-layer versus short stretch compression bandages for the treatment of venous leg ulcers. 
This trial was undertaken to examine the safety and efficacy of four-layer compared with short stretch compression bandages for the treatment of venous leg ulcers within the confines of a prospective, randomised, ethically approved trial. Fifty-three patients were recruited from a dedicated venous ulcer assessment clinic and their individual ulcerated limbs were randomised to receive either a four-layer bandage (FLB)(n = 32) or a short stretch bandage (SSB)(n = 32). The endpoint was a completely healed ulcer. However, if after 12 weeks of compression therapy no healing had been achieved, that limb was withdrawn from the study and deemed to have failed to heal with the prescribed bandage. Leg volume was measured using the multiple disc model at the first bandaging visit, 4 weeks later, and on ulcer healing. Complications arising during the study were recorded. Data from all limbs were analysed on an intention to treat basis; thus the three limbs not completing the protocol were included in the analysis. Of the 53 patients, 50 completed the protocol. At 1 year the healing rate was FLB 55% and SSB 57% (chi 2 = 0.0, df = 1, P = 1.0). Limbs in the FLB arm of the study sustained one minor complication, whereas SSB limbs sustained four significant complications. Leg volumes reduced significantly after 4 weeks of compression, but subsequent volume changes were insignificant. Ulcer healing rates were not influenced by the presence of deep venous reflux, post-thrombotic deep vein changes nor by ulcer duration. Although larger ulcers took longer to heal, the overall healing rates for large (> 10 cm2) and small (10 cm2 or less) ulcers were comparable. Four-layer and short stretch bandages were equally efficacious in healing venous ulcers independent of pattern of venous reflux, ulcer area or duration. FLB limbs sustained fewer complications than SSB.
PMCID: PMC2503021  PMID: 9682649
7.  Four layer bandage compared with short stretch bandage for venous leg ulcers: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials with data from individual patients  
Objective To compare the effectiveness of two types of compression treatment (four layer bandage and short stretch bandage) in people with venous leg ulceration.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis of patient level data.
Data sources Electronic databases (the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register, Medline, Embase, CINAHL, and National Research Register) and reference lists of retrieved articles searched to identify relevant trials and primary investigators. Primary investigators of eligible trials were invited to contribute raw data for re-analysis.
Review methods Randomised controlled trials of four layer bandage compared with short stretch bandage in people with venous leg ulceration were eligible for inclusion. The primary outcome for the meta-analysis was time to healing. Cox proportional hazards models were run to compare the methods in terms of time to healing with adjustment for independent predictors of healing. Secondary outcomes included incidence and number of adverse events per patient.
Results Seven eligible trials were identified (887 patients), and patient level data were retrieved for five (797 patients, 90% of known randomised patients). The four layer bandage was associated with significantly shorter time to healing: hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) from multifactorial model based on five trials was 1.31 (1.09 to 1.58), P=0.005. Larger ulcer area at baseline, more chronic ulceration, and previous ulceration were all independent predictors of delayed healing. Data from two trials showed no evidence of a difference in adverse event profiles between the two bandage types.
Conclusions Venous leg ulcers in patients treated with four layer bandages heal faster, on average, than those of people treated with the short stretch bandage. Benefits were consistent across patients with differing prognostic profiles.
doi:10.1136/bmj.b1344
PMCID: PMC2670366  PMID: 19376798
8.  Endovascular Laser Therapy for Varicose Veins 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of the MAS evidence review was to conduct a systematic review of the available evidence on the safety, effectiveness, durability and cost–effectiveness of endovascular laser therapy (ELT) for the treatment of primary symptomatic varicose veins (VV).
Background
The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) met on November 27, 2009 to review the safety, effectiveness, durability and cost-effectiveness of ELT for the treatment of primary VV based on an evidence-based review by the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS).
Clinical Condition
VV are tortuous, twisted, or elongated veins. This can be due to existing (inherited) valve dysfunction or decreased vein elasticity (primary venous reflux) or valve damage from prior thrombotic events (secondary venous reflux). The end result is pooling of blood in the veins, increased venous pressure and subsequent vein enlargement. As a result of high venous pressure, branch vessels balloon out leading to varicosities (varicose veins).
Symptoms typically affect the lower extremities and include (but are not limited to): aching, swelling, throbbing, night cramps, restless legs, leg fatigue, itching and burning. Left untreated, venous reflux tends to be progressive, often leading to chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
A number of complications are associated with untreated venous reflux: including superficial thrombophlebitis as well as variceal rupture and haemorrhage. CVI often results in chronic skin changes referred to as stasis dermatitis. Stasis dermatitis is comprised of a spectrum of cutaneous abnormalities including edema, hyperpigmentation, eczema, lipodermatosclerosis and stasis ulceration. Ulceration represents the disease end point for severe CVI.
CVI is associated with a reduced quality of life particularly in relation to pain, physical function and mobility. In severe cases, VV with ulcers, QOL has been rated to be as bad or worse as other chronic diseases such as back pain and arthritis.
Lower limb VV is a common disease affecting adults and estimated to be the seventh most common reason for physician referral in the US. There is a strong familial predisposition to VV with the risk in offspring being 90% if both parents affected, 20% when neither is affected, and 45% (25% boys, 62% girls) if one parent is affected. Globally, the prevalence of VV ranges from 5% to 15% among men and 3% to 29% among women varying by the age, gender and ethnicity of the study population, survey methods and disease definition and measurement. The annual incidence of VV estimated from the Framingham Study was reported to be 2.6% among women and 1.9% among men and did not vary within the age range (40-89 years) studied.
Approximately 1% of the adult population has a stasis ulcer of venous origin at any one time with 4% at risk. The majority of leg ulcer patients are elderly with simple superficial vein reflux. Stasis ulcers are often lengthy medical problems and can last for several years and, despite effective compression therapy and multilayer bandaging are associated with high recurrence rates. Recent trials involving surgical treatment of superficial vein reflux have resulted in healing and significantly reduced recurrence rates.
Endovascular Laser Therapy for VV
ELT is an image-guided, minimally invasive treatment alternative to surgical stripping of superficial venous reflux. It does not require an operating room or general anesthesia and has been performed in outpatient settings by a variety of medical specialties including surgeons (vascular or general), interventional radiologists and phlebologists. Rather than surgically removing the vein, ELT works by destroying, cauterizing or ablating the refluxing vein segment using heat energy delivered via laser fibre.
Prior to ELT, colour-flow Doppler ultrasonography is used to confirm and map all areas of venous reflux to devise a safe and effective treatment plan. The ELT procedure involves the introduction of a guide wire into the target vein under ultrasound guidance followed by the insertion of an introducer sheath through which an optical fibre carrying the laser energy is advanced. A tumescent anesthetic solution is injected into the soft tissue surrounding the target vein along its entire length. This serves to anaesthetize the vein so that the patient feels no discomfort during the procedure. It also serves to insulate the heat from damaging adjacent structures, including nerves and skin. Once satisfactory positioning has been confirmed with ultrasound, the laser is activated. Both the laser fibre and the sheath are simultaneously, slowly and continuously pulled back along the length of the target vessel. At the end of the procedure, homeostasis is then achieved by applying pressure to the entry point.
Adequate and proper compression stockings and bandages are applied after the procedure to reduce the risk of venous thromboembolism, and to reduce postoperative bruising and tenderness. Patients are encouraged to walk immediately after the procedure and most patients return to work or usual activity within a few days. Follow-up protocols vary, with most patients returning 1-3 weeks later for an initial follow-up visit. At this point, the initial clinical result is assessed and occlusion of the treated vessels is confirmed with ultrasound. Patients often have a second follow-up visit 1-3 months following ELT at which time clinical evaluation and ultrasound are repeated. If required, sclerotherapy may be performed during the ELT procedure or at any follow-up visits.
Regulatory Status
Endovascular laser for the treatment of VV was approved by Health Canada as a class 3 device in 2002. The treatment has been an insured service in Saskatchewan since 2007 and is the only province to insure ELT. Although the treatment is not an insured service in Ontario, it has been provided by various medical specialties since 2002 in over 20 private clinics.
Methods
Literature Search
The MAS evidence-based review was performed as an update to the 2007 health technology review performed by the Australian Medical Services Committee (MSAC) to support public financing decisions. The literature search was performed on August 18, 2009 using standard bibliographic databases for studies published from January 1, 2007 to August 15, 2009. Search alerts were generated and reviewed for additional relevant literature up until October 1, 2009.
Inclusion Criteria
English language full-reports and human studies
Original reports with defined study methodology
Reports including standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, durability, quality of life or patient satisfaction
Reports involving ELT for VV (great or small saphenous veins)
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses
Cohort and controlled clinical studies involving > 1 month ultrasound imaging follow-up
Exclusion Criteria
Non systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials
Reports not involving outcome events such as safety, effectiveness, durability, or patient satisfaction following an intervention with ELT
Reports not involving interventions with ELT for VV
Pilot studies or studies with small samples ( < 50 subjects)
Summary of Findings
The MAS evidence search identified 14 systematic reviews, 29 cohort studies on safety and effectiveness, four cost studies and 12 randomized controlled trials involving ELT, six of these comparing endovascular laser with surgical ligation and saphenous vein stripping.
Since 2007, 22 cohort studies involving 10,883 patients undergoing ELT of the great saphenous vein (GSV) have been published. Imaging defined treatment effectiveness of mean vein closure rates were reported to be greater than 90% (range 93%- 99%) at short term follow-up. Longer than one year follow-up was reported in five studies with life table analysis performed in four but the follow up was still limited at three and four years. The overall pooled major adverse event rate, including DVT, PE, skin burns or nerve damage events extracted from these studies, was 0.63% (69/10,883).
The overall level of evidence of randomized trials comparing ELT with surgical ligation and vein stripping (n= 6) was graded as moderate to high. Recovery after treatment was significantly quicker after ELT (return to work median number of days, 4 vs. 17; p= .005). Major adverse events occurring after surgery were higher [(1.8% (n=4) vs. 0.4% (n = 1) 1 but not significantly. Treatment effectiveness as measured by imaging vein absence or closure, symptom relief or quality of life similar in the two treatment groups and both treatments resulted in statistically significantly improvements in these outcomes. Recurrence was low after both treatments at follow up but neovascularization (growth of new vessels, a key predictor of long term recurrence was significantly more common (18% vs. 1%; p = .001) after surgery. Although patient satisfaction was reported to be high (>80%) with both treatments, patient preferences evaluated through recruitment process, physician reports and consumer groups were strongly in favour of ELT. For patients minimal complications, quick recovery and dependability of outpatient scheduling were key considerations.
As clinical effectiveness of the two treatments was similar, a cost-analysis was performed to compare differences in resources and costs between the two procedures. A budget impact analysis for introducing ELT as an insured service was also performed. The average case cost (based on Ontario hospital costs and medical resources) for surgical vein stripping was estimated to be $1,799. Because of the uncertainties with resources associated with ELT, in addition to the device related costs, hospital costs were varied and assumed to be the same as or less than (40%) those for surgery resulting in an average ELT case cost of $2,025 or $1,602.
Based on the historical pattern of surgical vein stripping for varices a 5-year projection was made for annual volumes and costs. In Ontario in 2007/2008, 3481 surgical vein stripping procedures were performed, 28% for repeat procedures. Annual volumes of ELT currently being performed in the province in over 20 private clinics were estimated to be approximately 840. If ELT were publicly reimbursed, it was assumed that it would capture 35% of the vein stripping market in the first year and increase to 55% in subsequent years. Based on these assumptions if ELT were not publicly reimbursed, the province would be paying approximately $5.9 million and if ELT were reimbursed the province would pay $8.2 million if the hospital costs for ELT were the same as surgery and $7.1 million if the hospital costs were less (40%) than surgery.
The conclusions on the comparative outcomes between laser ablation and surgical ligation and saphenous vein stripping are summarized in the table below (ES Table 1).
Outcome comparisons of ELT vs. surgery for VV
The outcomes of the evidence-based review on these treatments based on three different perspectives are summarized below:
Patient Outcomes – ELT vs. Surgery
ELT has a quicker recovery attributable to the decreased pain, lower minor complications, use of local anesthesia with immediate ambulation.
ELT is as effective as surgery in the short term as assessed by imaging anatomic outcomes, symptomatic relief and HRQOL outcomes.
Recurrence is similar but neovascularization, a key predictor of long term recurrence, is significantly higher with surgery.
Patient satisfaction is equally high after both treatments but patient preference is much more strongly for ELT. Surgeons performing ELT are satisfied with treatment outcomes and regularly offer ELT as a treatment alternative to surgery.
Clinical or Technical Advantages – ELT Over Surgery
An endovascular approach can more easily and more precisely treat multilevel disease and difficult to treat areas
ELT is an effective and a less invasive treatment for the elderly with VV and those with venous leg ulcers.
System Outcomes – ELT Replacing Surgery
ELT may offer system advantages in that the treatment can be offered by several medical specialties in outpatient settings and because it does not require an operating theatre or general anesthesia.
The treatment may result in ↓ pre-surgical investigations, decanting of patients from OR, ↓ demand on anesthetists time, ↓ hospital stay, ↓decrease wait time for VV treatment and provide more reliable outpatient scheduling.
Depending on the reimbursement mechanism for the treatment, however, it may also result in closure of outpatient clinics with an increasingly centralization of procedures in selected hospitals with large capital budgets resulting in larger and longer waiting lists.
Procedure costs may be similar for the two treatments but the budget impact may be greater with insurance of ELT because of the transfer of the cases from the private market to the public payer system.
PMCID: PMC3377531  PMID: 23074409
9.  Venous leg ulcers 
Clinical Evidence  2008;2008:1902.
Introduction
Leg ulcers usually occur secondary to venous reflux or obstruction, but 20% of people with leg ulcers have arterial disease, with or without venous disorders. Between 1.5 and 3.0/1000 people have active leg ulcers. Prevalence increases with age to about 20/1000 in people aged over 80 years.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of standard treatments, adjuvant treatments, and organisational interventions for venous leg ulcers? What are the effects of interventions to prevent recurrence of venous leg ulcers? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to September 2007 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 80 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: compression bandages and stockings, cultured allogenic (single or bilayer) skin replacement, debriding agents, dressings (cellulose, collagen, film, foam, hyaluronic acid-derived, semi-occlusive alginate), hydrocolloid (occlusive) dressings in the presence of compression, intermittent pneumatic compression, intravenous prostaglandin E1, larval therapy, laser treatment (low-level), leg ulcer clinics, multilayer elastic system, multilayer elastomeric (or non-elastomeric) high-compression regimens or bandages, oral treatments (aspirin, flavonoids, pentoxifylline, rutosides, stanozolol, sulodexide, thromboxane alpha2 antagonists, zinc), peri-ulcer injection of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, short-stretch bandages, single-layer non-elastic system, skin grafting, superficial vein surgery, systemic mesoglycan, therapeutic ultrasound, self-help (advice to elevate leg, advice to keep leg active, advice to modify diet, advice to stop smoking, advice to reduce weight), and topical treatments (antimicrobial agents, autologous platelet lysate, calcitonin gene-related peptide plus vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, freeze-dried keratinocyte lysate, mesoglycan, negative-pressure recombinant keratinocyte growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor).
Key Points
Leg ulcers are usually secondary to venous reflux or obstruction, but 20% of people with leg ulcers have arterial disease, with or without venous disorders.
Compression bandages and stockings heal more ulcers compared with no compression, but we don't know which bandaging technique is most effective. Compression is used for people with ulcers caused by venous disease who have an adequate arterial supply to the foot, and who don't have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.The effectiveness of compression bandages depends on the skill of the person applying them.We don't know whether intermittent pneumatic compression is beneficial compared with compression bandages or stockings.
Occlusive (hydrocolloid) dressings are no more effective than simple low-adherent dressings in people treated with compression, but we don't know whether semi-occlusive dressings are beneficial.
Peri-ulcer injections of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor may increase healing, but we don't know whether other locally applied agents, or therapeutic ultrasound are beneficial, as we found few studies.
Oral pentoxifylline increases ulcer healing in people receiving compression, and oral flavonoids, sulodexide, and mesoglycan may also be effective. We don't know whether oral aspirin, rutosides, thromboxane alpha2 antagonists, zinc, debriding agents, intravenous prostaglandin E1, superficial vein surgery, skin grafting, leg ulcer clinics, larval therapy, laser treatment, or advice to elevate legs, increase activity, lose weight, change diet, or give up smoking increase healing of ulcers in people treated with compression.
Compression bandages and stockings reduce recurrence of ulcers compared with no compression, and should ideally be worn for life. Superficial vein surgery may also reduce recurrence, but we don't know whether systemic drug treatment is effective.
PMCID: PMC2908003  PMID: 19445798
10.  Community-Based Care for Chronic Wound Management 
Executive Summary
In August 2008, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) presented a vignette to the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) on a proposed targeted health care delivery model for chronic care. The proposed model was defined as multidisciplinary, ambulatory, community-based care that bridged the gap between primary and tertiary care, and was intended for individuals with a chronic disease who were at risk of a hospital admission or emergency department visit. The goals of this care model were thought to include: the prevention of emergency department visits, a reduction in hospital admissions and re-admissions, facilitation of earlier hospital discharge, a reduction or delay in long-term care admissions, and an improvement in mortality and other disease-specific patient outcomes.
OHTAC approved the development of an evidence-based assessment to determine the effectiveness of specialized community based care for the management of heart failure, Type 2 diabetes and chronic wounds.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site at: www.health.gov.on.ca/ohtas to review the following reports associated with the Specialized Multidisciplinary Community-Based care series.
Specialized multidisciplinary community-based care series: a summary of evidence-based analyses
Community-based care for the specialized management of heart failure: an evidence-based analysis
Community-based care for chronic wound management: an evidence-based analysis
Please note that the evidence-based analysis of specialized community-based care for the management of diabetes titled: “Community-based care for the management of type 2 diabetes: an evidence-based analysis” has been published as part of the Diabetes Strategy Evidence Platform at this URL: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/tech/ohtas/tech_diabetes_20091020.html
Please visit the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative Web site at: http://theta.utoronto.ca/papers/MAS_CHF_Clinics_Report.pdf to review the following economic project associated with this series:
Community-based Care for the specialized management of heart failure: a cost-effectiveness and budget impact analysis.
Objective
The objective of this evidence-based review is to determine the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary wound care team for the management of chronic wounds.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Chronic wounds develop from various aetiologies including pressure, diabetes, venous pathology, and surgery. A pressure ulcer is defined as a localized injury to the skin/and or underlying tissue occurring most often over a bony prominence and caused, alone or in combination, by pressure, shear, or friction. Up to three fifths of venous leg ulcers are due to venous aetiology.
Approximately 1.5 million Ontarians will sustain a pressure ulcer, 111,000 will develop a diabetic foot ulcer, and between 80,000 and 130,000 will develop a venous leg ulcer. Up to 65% of those afflicted by chronic leg ulcers report experiencing decreased quality of life, restricted mobility, anxiety, depression, and/or severe or continuous pain.
Multidisciplinary Wound Care Teams
The term ‘multidisciplinary’ refers to multiple disciplines on a team and ‘interdisciplinary’ to such a team functioning in a coordinated and collaborative manner. There is general consensus that a group of multidisciplinary professionals is necessary for optimum specialist management of chronic wounds stemming from all aetiologies. However, there is little evidence to guide the decision of which professionals might be needed form an optimal wound care team.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on July 7, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, Wiley Cochrane, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment, and on July 13, 2009 using the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies pertaining to leg and foot ulcers. A similar literature search was conducted on July 29’ 2009 for studies pertaining to pressure ulcers. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with an unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established.
Inclusion Criteria
Randomized controlled trials and Controlled clinical Trials (CCT)
Systematic review with meta analysis
Population includes persons with pressure ulcers (anywhere) and/or leg and foot ulcers
The intervention includes a multidisciplinary (two or more disciplines) wound care team.
The control group does not receive care by a wound care team
Studies published in the English language between 2004 and 2009
Exclusion Criteria
Single centre retrospective observational studies
Outcomes of Interest
Proportion of persons and/or wounds completely healed
Time to complete healing
Quality of Life
Pain assessment
Summary of Findings
Two studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria, one a randomized controlled trial (RCT), the other a CCT using a before and after study design. There was variation in the setting, composition of the wound care team, outcome measures, and follow up periods between the studies. In both studies, however, the wound care team members received training in wound care management and followed a wound care management protocol.
In the RCT, Vu et al. reported a non-significant difference between the proportion of wounds healed in 6 months using a univariate analysis (61.7% for treatment vs. 52.5% for control; p=0.074, RR=1.19) There was also a non-significant difference in the mean time to healing in days (82 for treatment vs. 101 for control; p=0.095). More persons in the intervention group had a Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) score equal to zero (better pain control) at 6 months when compared with the control group (38.6% for intervention vs. 24.4% for control; p=0.017, RR=1.58). By multivariate analysis a statistically significant hazard ratio was reported in the intervention group (1.73, 95% CI 1.20-1.50; p=0.003).
In the CCT, Harrison et al. reported a statistically significant difference in healing rates between the pre (control) and post (intervention) phases of the study. Of patients in the pre phase, 23% had healed ulcers 3 months after study enrolment, whereas 56% were healed in the post phase (P<0.001, OR=4.17) (Figure 3). Furthermore, 27% of patients were treated daily or more often in the pre phase whereas only 6% were treated at this frequency in the post phase (P<0.001), equal to a 34% relative risk reduction in frequency of daily treatments. The authors did not report the results of pain relief assessment.
The body of evidence was assessed using the GRADE methodology for 4 outcomes: proportion of wounds healed, proportion of persons with healed wounds, wound associated pain relief, and proportion of persons needing daily wound treatments. In general, the evidence was found to be low to very low quality.
Conclusion
The evidence supports that managing chronic wounds with a multidisciplinary wound care team significantly increases wound healing and reduces the severity of wound-associated pain and the required daily wound treatments compared to persons not managed by a wound care team. The quality of evidence supporting these outcomes is low to very low meaning that further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate.
PMCID: PMC3377537  PMID: 23074522
11.  Endovascular Radiofrequency Ablation for Varicose Veins 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of the MAS evidence review was to conduct a systematic review of the available evidence on the safety, effectiveness, durability and cost–effectiveness of endovascular radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for the treatment of primary symptomatic varicose veins.
Background
The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) met on August 26th, 2010 to review the safety, effectiveness, durability, and cost-effectiveness of RFA for the treatment of primary symptomatic varicose veins based on an evidence-based review by the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS).
Clinical Condition
Varicose veins (VV) are tortuous, twisted, or elongated veins. This can be due to existing (inherited) valve dysfunction or decreased vein elasticity (primary venous reflux) or valve damage from prior thrombotic events (secondary venous reflux). The end result is pooling of blood in the veins, increased venous pressure and subsequent vein enlargement. As a result of high venous pressure, branch vessels balloon out leading to varicosities (varicose veins).
Symptoms typically affect the lower extremities and include (but are not limited to): aching, swelling, throbbing, night cramps, restless legs, leg fatigue, itching and burning. Left untreated, venous reflux tends to be progressive, often leading to chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). A number of complications are associated with untreated venous reflux: including superficial thrombophlebitis as well as variceal rupture and haemorrhage. CVI often results in chronic skin changes referred to as stasis dermatitis. Stasis dermatitis is comprised of a spectrum of cutaneous abnormalities including edema, hyperpigmentation, eczema, lipodermatosclerosis and stasis ulceration. Ulceration represents the disease end point for severe CVI. CVI is associated with a reduced quality of life particularly in relation to pain, physical function and mobility. In severe cases, VV with ulcers, QOL has been rated to be as bad or worse as other chronic diseases such as back pain and arthritis.
Lower limb VV is a very common disease affecting adults – estimated to be the 7th most common reason for physician referral in the US. There is a very strong familial predisposition to VV. The risk in offspring is 90% if both parents affected, 20% when neither affected and 45% (25% boys, 62% girls) if one parent affected. The prevalence of VV worldwide ranges from 5% to 15% among men and 3% to 29% among women varying by the age, gender and ethnicity of the study population, survey methods and disease definition and measurement. The annual incidence of VV estimated from the Framingham Study was reported to be 2.6% among women and 1.9% among men and did not vary within the age range (40-89 years) studied.
Approximately 1% of the adult population has a stasis ulcer of venous origin at any one time with 4% at risk. The majority of leg ulcer patients are elderly with simple superficial vein reflux. Stasis ulcers are often lengthy medical problems and can last for several years and, despite effective compression therapy and multilayer bandaging are associated with high recurrence rates. Recent trials involving surgical treatment of superficial vein reflux have resulted in healing and significantly reduced recurrence rates.
Endovascular Radiofrequency Ablation for Varicose Veins
RFA is an image-guided minimally invasive treatment alternative to surgical stripping of superficial venous reflux. RFA does not require an operating room or general anaesthesia and has been performed in an outpatient setting by a variety of medical specialties including surgeons and interventional radiologists. Rather than surgically removing the vein, RFA works by destroying or ablating the refluxing vein segment using thermal energy delivered through a radiofrequency catheter.
Prior to performing RFA, color-flow Doppler ultrasonography is used to confirm and map all areas of venous reflux to devise a safe and effective treatment plan. The RFA procedure involves the introduction of a guide wire into the target vein under ultrasound guidance followed by the insertion of an introducer sheath through which the RFA catheter is advanced. Once satisfactory positioning has been confirmed with ultrasound, a tumescent anaesthetic solution is injected into the soft tissue surrounding the target vein along its entire length. This serves to anaesthetize the vein, insulate the heat from damaging adjacent structures, including nerves and skin and compresses the vein increasing optimal contact of the vessel wall with the electrodes or expanded prongs of the RF device. The RF generator is then activated and the catheter is slowly pulled along the length of the vein. At the end of the procedure, hemostasis is then achieved by applying pressure to the vein entry point.
Adequate and proper compression stockings and bandages are applied after the procedure to reduce the risk of venous thromboembolism and to reduce postoperative bruising and tenderness. Patients are encouraged to walk immediately after the procedure. Follow-up protocols vary, with most patients returning 1 to 3 weeks later for an initial follow-up visit. At this point, the initial clinical result is assessed and occlusion of the treated vessels is confirmed with ultrasound. Patients often have a second follow-up visit 1 to 3 months following RFA at which time clinical evaluation and ultrasound are repeated. If required, additional procedures such as phlebectomy or sclerotherapy may be performed during the RFA procedure or at any follow-up visits.
Regulatory Status
The Closure System® radiofrequency generator for endovascular thermal ablation of varicose veins was approved by Health Canada as a class 3 device in March 2005, registered under medical device license 67865. The RFA intravascular catheter was approved by Health Canada in November 2007 for the ClosureFast catheter, registered under medical device license 16574. The Closure System® also has regulatory approvals in Australia, Europe (CE Mark) and the United States (FDA clearance). In Ontario, RFA is not an insured service and is currently being introduced in private clinics.
Methods
Literature Search
The MAS evidence–based review was performed to support public financing decisions. The literature search was performed on March 9th, 2010 using standard bibliographic databases for studies published up until March, 2010.
Inclusion Criteria
English language full-reports and human studies Original reports with defined study methodologyReports including standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, durability, quality of life or patient satisfaction Reports involving RFA for varicose veins (great or small saphenous veins)Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analysesCohort and controlled clinical studies involving ≥ 1 month ultrasound imaging follow-up
Exclusion Criteria
Non systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials Reports not involving outcome events such as safety, effectiveness, durability, or patient satisfaction following an intervention with RFAReports not involving interventions with RFA for varicose veinsPilot studies or studies with small samples (< 50 subjects)
Summary of Findings
The MAS evidence search on the safety and effectiveness of endovascular RFA ablation of VV identified the following evidence: three HTAs, nine systematic reviews, eight randomized controlled trials (five comparing RFA to surgery and three comparing RFA to ELT), five controlled clinical trials and fourteen cohort case series (four were multicenter registry studies).
The majority (12⁄14) of the cohort studies (3,664) evaluating RFA for VV involved treatment with first generation RFA catheters and the great saphenous vein (GSV) was the target vessel in all studies. Major adverse events were uncommonly reported and the overall pooled major adverse event rate extracted from the cohort studies was 2.9% (105⁄3,664). Imaging defined treatment effectiveness of vein closure rates were variable ranging from 68% to 96% at post-operative follow-up. Vein ablation rate at 6-month follow-up was reported in four studies with rates close to 90%. Only one study reported vein closure rates at 2 years but only for a minority of the eligible cases. The two studies reporting on RFA ablation with the more efficient second generation catheters involved better follow-up and reported higher ablation rates close to 100% at 6-month follow-up with no major adverse events. A large prospective registry trial that recruited over 1,000 patients at thirty-four largely European centers reported on treatment success in six overlapping reports on selected patient subgroups at various follow-up points up to 5 year. However, the follow-up for eligible recruited patients at all time points was low resulting in inadequate estimates of longer term treatment efficacy.
The overall level of evidence of randomized trials comparing RFA with surgical ligation and vein stripping (n = 5) was graded as low to moderate. In all trials RFA ablation was performed with first generation catheters in the setting of the operating theatre under general anaesthesia, usually without tumescent anaesthesia. Procedure times were significantly longer after RFA than surgery. Recovery after treatment was significantly quicker after RFA both with return to usual activity and return to work with on average a one week less of work loss. Major adverse events occurring after surgery were higher [(1.8% (n=4) vs. 0.4% (n = 1) than after RFA but not significantly. Treatment effectiveness measured by imaging defined vein absence or vein closure was comparable in the two treatment groups. Significant improvements in vein symptoms and quality of life over baseline were reported for both treatment groups. Improvements in these outcomes were significantly greater in the RFA group than the surgery group in the peri-operative period but not in later follow-up. Follow-up in these trials was inadequate to evaluate longer term recurrence for either treatment. Patient satisfaction was reported to be high for both treatments but was higher for RFA.
The studies comparing endovascular treatment approaches for VV (RFA and ELT) were more limited. Three RCT studies compared RFA (two with the second generation catheter) with ELT but mainly focused on peri-procedural outcomes such as pain, complications and recovery. Vein ablation rates were not evaluated in the trials, except for one small trial involving bilateral VV. Pain responses in patients undergoing ablation were extremely variable and up to 2 weeks, mean pain levels were significantly less with RFA than ELT ablation but differences were not significant at one month. Recovery, evaluated as return to usual activity or return to work, however, was similar in the treatment groups. Vein symptom and QOL improvements were improved in both groups but were significantly better in the RFA group than the ELT group at 2 weeks, but not at one month. Vein ablation rates were evaluated in several controlled clinical studies comparing the treatments between centers or within centers between individuals or over time. Comparisons in these studies were inconsistent with vein ablation rates for RFA reported to be similar to, higher than and lower than those with ELT.
Economic Analysis
RFA and surgical vein stripping, the main comparator reimbursed by the public system, are comparable in clinical benefits. Hence a cost-analysis was conducted to identify the differences in resources and costs between both procedures and a budgetary impact analysis (BIA) was conducted to project costs over a 5- year period in the province of Ontario. The target population of this economic analysis was patients with symptomatic varicose veins and the primary analytic perspective was that of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
The average case cost (based on Ontario hospital costs and medical resources) for surgical vein stripping was estimated to be $1,799. In order to calculate a procedural cost for RFA it was assumed that the hospital cost and physician labour fees, excluding anaesthesia and surgical assistance, were the same as vein stripping surgery. The manufacturer also provided details on the generator with a capital cost of $27,500 and a lifespan of 5 years and the disposables (catheter, sheath, guidewire) with a cost of $673 per case. The average case cost for RFA was therefore estimated to be $1,356. One-way sensitivity analysis was also conducted with hospital cost of RFA varied to 60% that of vein stripping surgery (average cost per case = $627.08) to calculate an impact to the province.
Historical volumes of vein stripping surgeries in Ontario were used to project surgeries in a linear fashion up to five years into the future. Volumes for RFA and ELT were calculated based on share capture from the surgery market based on discussion with clinical expert opinion and existing private data based on discussion with the manufacturer. RFA is expected to compete with ELT and capture some of the market. If ELT is reimbursed by the public sector then numbers will continue to increase from previous private data and share capture from the conventional surgical treatment market. Therefore, RFA cases will also increase since it will be capturing a share of the ELT market. A budget impact to the province was then calculated by multiplying volumes by the cost of the procedure.
RFA is comparable in clinical benefits to vein stripping surgery. It has the extra upfront cost of the generator and cost per case for disposables but does not require an operating theater, anaesthetist or surgical assistant fees. The impact to the province is expected to be 5 M by Year 5 with the introduction of new ELT and RFA image guided endovascular technologies and existing surgery for varicose veins.
Conclusion
The conclusions on the comparative outcomes between endovascular RFA and surgical ligation and saphenous vein stripping and between endovascular RFA and laser ablation for VV treatment are summarized in the table below (ES Table 1).
Outcome comparisons of RFA vs. surgery and RFA vs ELT for varicose veins
ELT refers to endovascular laser ablation; RFA, radiofrequency ablation
The outcomes of the evidence-based review on these treatments for VV based on different perspectives are summarized below:
RFA First versus Second Generation Catheters and Segmental Ablation
Ablation with second generation catheters and segmental ablation offered technical advantages with improved ease and significant decreases in procedure time. RFA ablation with second generation catheters is also no longer restricted to smaller (< 12 mm diameter) saphenous veins. The safety profile with the new device and method of energy delivery is as good as or improved over the first generation device. No major adverse events were reported in two multicenter prospective cohort studies in 6 month follow-up with over 500 patients. Post-operative complications such as bruising and pain were significantly less with RFA ablation with second generation catheters than ELT in two RCT trials.RFA treatment with second generation catheters has ablation rates that are higher than with first generation catheters and are more comparable with the consistently high rates of ELT.
Endovascular RFA versus Surgery
RFA has a quicker recovery attributable to decreased pain and lower minor complications.RFA, in the short term was comparable to surgery in treatment effectiveness as assessed by imaging defined anatomic outcomes such as vein closure, flow or reflux. Other treatment outcomes such as symptomatic relief and HRQOL were significantly improved in both groups and between group differences in the early peri-operative period were likely influenced by pain experiences. Longer term follow-up was inadequate to evaluate recurrence after either treatment.Patient satisfaction was high after both treatments but was higher for RFA than surgery.
Endovascular RFA versus ELT
RFA has significantly less post-operative pain than ELT but differences were not significant when pain was adjusted for analgesic use and pain differences between groups did not persist at 1 month follow-up.Treatment effectiveness, measured as symptom relief and QOL improvement were similar between the endovascular treatments in the short term (within 1 month) Treatment effectiveness measured as imaging defined vein ablation was not measured in any RCT trials (only for bilateral VV disease) and results were inconsistently reported in observational trials.Longer term follow-up was not available to assess recurrence after either treatment.
System Outcomes – RFA Replacing Surgery or Competing with ELT
RFA may offer system advantages in that the treatment can be offered by several medical specialties in outpatient settings and because it does not require an operating theatre or general anaesthesia. The treatment may result in decanting of patients from OR with decreased pre-surgical investigations, demand on anaesthetists’ time, hospital stay and wait time for VV treatment. It may also provide more reliable outpatient scheduling. Procedure costs may be less for endovascular approaches than surgery but the budget impact may be greater with insurance of RFA because of the transfer of cases from the private market to the public payer system.Competition between RFA and ELT endovascular approaches is likely to continue to stimulate innovation and technical changes to advance patient care and result in competitive pricing.
PMCID: PMC3377553  PMID: 23074413
12.  Long term results of compression therapy alone versus compression plus surgery in chronic venous ulceration (ESCHAR): randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;335(7610):83.
Objective To determine whether recurrence of leg ulcers may be prevented by surgical correction of superficial venous reflux in addition to compression.
Design Randomised controlled trial.
Setting Specialist nurse led leg ulcer clinics in three UK vascular centres.
Participants 500 patients (500 legs) with open or recently healed leg ulcers and superficial venous reflux.
Interventions Compression alone or compression plus saphenous surgery.
Main outcome measures Primary outcomes were ulcer healing and ulcer recurrence. The secondary outcome was ulcer free time.
Results Ulcer healing rates at three years were 89% for the compression group and 93% for the compression plus surgery group (P=0.73, log rank test). Rates of ulcer recurrence at four years were 56% for the compression group and 31% for the compression plus surgery group (P<0.01). For patients with isolated superficial reflux, recurrence rates at four years were 51% for the compression group and 27% for the compress plus surgery group (P<0.01). For patients who had superficial with segmental deep reflux, recurrence rates at three years were 52% for the compression group and 24% for the compression plus surgery group (P=0.04). For patients with superficial and total deep reflux, recurrence rates at three years were 46% for the compression group and 32% for the compression plus surgery group (P=0.33). Patients in the compression plus surgery group experienced a greater proportion of ulcer free time after three years compared with patients in the compression group (78% v 71%; P=0.007, Mann-Whitney U test).
Conclusion Surgical correction of superficial venous reflux in addition to compression bandaging does not improve ulcer healing but reduces the recurrence of ulcers at four years and results in a greater proportion of ulcer free time.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN07549334.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39216.542442.BE
PMCID: PMC1914523  PMID: 17545185
13.  Effectiveness of acupuncture, special dressings and simple, low-adherence dressings for healing venous leg ulcers in primary healthcare: study protocol for a cluster-randomized open-labeled trial 
Background
Venous leg ulcers constitute a chronic recurring complaint that affects 1.0–1.3% of the adult population at some time in life, and which corresponds to approximately 75% of all chronic ulcers of the leg. Multilayer compression bandaging is, at present, the only treatment that has been proved to be effective in treating this type of ulcer. There is no consensus, however, about the dressings that may be applied, beneath the compression, to promote the healing of this type of ulcer, as there does not seem to be any added benefit from using special dressings rather than simple, low-adherence ones. As well as analgesia, acupuncture provokes peripheral vasodilation, in skin and muscles – which has been demonstrated both experimentally and in clinical practice – probably due to the axon reflex, among other mechanisms. The aim of the present study is to measure the effectiveness and cost of compression treatment for venous leg ulcers combined with special dressings, in comparison with low-adherence ones and acupuncture.
Methods/design
Cluster-randomized open-labeled trial, at 15 primary healthcare clinics in the Sevilla-Sur Healthcare District, with a control group treated with compression bandaging and low-adherence dressings; the experiment will consist, on the one hand, of the compression treatment applied in combination with special dressings (Treatment 1), and on the other, the compression treatment applied in association with low-adherence dressings, together with acupuncture (Treatment 2).
Discussion
The results will be measured and recorded in terms of the median time elapsed until complete healing of the ulcer, and the rate of complete healing at 3 months after beginning the treatment. An economic analysis will also be made.
This study, carried out in the context of real clinical practice, will provide information for decision-taking concerning the effectiveness of special dressings. Moreover, for the first time a high-quality study will evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture in the process of healing venous leg ulcers.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN26438275.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-29
PMCID: PMC2432047  PMID: 18547419
14.  Protocol for a pilot randomised controlled clinical trial to compare the effectiveness of a graduated three layer straight tubular bandaging system when compared to a standard short stretch compression bandaging system in the management of people with venous ulceration: 3VSS2008 
Trials  2010;11:26.
Background
The incidence of venous ulceration is rising with the increasing age of the general population. Venous ulceration represents the most prevalent form of difficult to heal wounds and these problematic wounds require a significant amount of health care resources for treatment. Based on current knowledge multi-layer high compression system is described as the gold standard for treating venous ulcers. However, to date, despite our advances in venous ulcer therapy, no convincing low cost compression therapy studies have been conducted and there are no clear differences in the effectiveness of different types of high compression.
Methods/Design
The trial is designed as a pilot multicentre open label parallel group randomised trial. Male and female participants aged greater than 18 years with a venous ulcer confirmed by clinical assessment will be randomised to either the intervention compression bandage which consists of graduated lengths of 3 layers of elastic tubular compression bandage or to the short stretch inelastic compression bandage (control). The primary objective is to assess the percentage wound reduction from baseline compared to week 12 following randomisation. Randomisation will be allocated via a web based central independent randomisation service (nQuery v7) and stratified by study centre and wound size ≤ 10 cm2 or >10 cm2. Neither participants nor study staff will be blinded to treatment. Outcome assessments will be undertaken by an assessor who is blinded to the randomisation process.
Discussion
The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of two compression bandages; graduated three layer straight tubular bandaging (3L) when compared to standard short stretch (SS) compression bandaging in healing venous ulcers in patients with chronic venous ulceration. The trial investigates the differences in clinical outcomes of two currently accepted ways of treating people with venous ulcers. This study will help answer the question whether the 3L compression system or the SS compression system is associated with better outcomes.
Trial Registration
ACTRN12608000599370
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-11-26
PMCID: PMC2847559  PMID: 20214822
15.  Management of Chronic Pressure Ulcers 
Executive Summary
In April 2008, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began an evidence-based review of the literature concerning pressure ulcers.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/tech/tech_mn.html to review these titles that are currently available within the Pressure Ulcers series.
Pressure ulcer prevention: an evidence based analysis
The cost-effectiveness of prevention strategies for pressure ulcers in long-term care homes in Ontario: projections of the Ontario Pressure Ulcer Model (field evaluation)
Management of chronic pressure ulcers: an evidence-based analysis
Objective
The Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) conducted a systematic review on interventions used to treat pressure ulcers in order to answer the following questions:
Do currently available interventions for the treatment of pressure ulcers increase the healing rate of pressure ulcers compared with standard care, a placebo, or other similar interventions?
Within each category of intervention, which one is most effective in promoting the healing of existing pressure ulcers?
Background
A pressure ulcer is a localized injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in conjunction with shear and/or friction. Many areas of the body, especially the sacrum and the heel, are prone to the development of pressure ulcers. People with impaired mobility (e.g., stroke or spinal cord injury patients) are most vulnerable to pressure ulcers. Other factors that predispose people to pressure ulcer formation are poor nutrition, poor sensation, urinary and fecal incontinence, and poor overall physical and mental health.
The prevalence of pressure ulcers in Ontario has been estimated to range from a median of 22.1% in community settings to a median of 29.9% in nonacute care facilities. Pressure ulcers have been shown to increase the risk of mortality among geriatric patients by as much as 400%, to increase the frequency and duration of hospitalization, and to decrease the quality of life of affected patients. The cost of treating pressure ulcers has been estimated at approximately $9,000 (Cdn) per patient per month in the community setting. Considering the high prevalence of pressure ulcers in the Ontario health care system, the total cost of treating pressure ulcers is substantial.
Technology
Wounds normally heal in 3 phases (inflammatory phase, a proliferative phase of new tissue and matrix formation, and a remodelling phase). However, pressure ulcers often fail to progress past the inflammatory stage. Current practice for treating pressure ulcers includes treating the underlying causes, debridement to remove necrotic tissues and contaminated tissues, dressings to provide a moist wound environment and to manage exudates, devices and frequent turning of patients to provide pressure relief, topical applications of biologic agents, and nutritional support to correct nutritional deficiencies. A variety of adjunctive physical therapies are also in use.
Method
Health technology assessment databases and medical databases were searched from 1996 (Medline), 1980 (EMBASE), and 1982 (CINAHL) systematically up to March 2008 to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the following treatments of pressure ulcers: cleansing, debridement, dressings, biological therapies, pressure-relieving devices, physical therapies, nutritional therapies, and multidisciplinary wound care teams. Full literature search strategies are reported in appendix 1. English-language studies in previous systematic reviews and studies published since the last systematic review were included if they had more than 10 subjects, were randomized, and provided objective outcome measures on the healing of pressure ulcers. In the absence of RCTs, studies of the highest level of evidence available were included. Studies on wounds other than pressure ulcers and on surgical treatment of pressure ulcers were excluded. A total of 18 systematic reviews, 104 RCTs, and 4 observational studies were included in this review.
Data were extracted from studies using standardized forms. The quality of individual studies was assessed based on adequacy of randomization, concealment of treatment allocation, comparability of groups, blinded assessment, and intention-to-treat analysis. Meta-analysis to estimate the relative risk (RR) or weighted mean difference (WMD) for measures of healing was performed when appropriate. A descriptive synthesis was provided where pooled analysis was not appropriate or not feasible. The quality of the overall evidence on each intervention was assessed using the grading of recommendations assessment, development, and evaluation (GRADE) criteria.
Findings
Findings from the analysis of the included studies are summarized below:
Cleansing
There is no good trial evidence to support the use of any particular wound cleansing solution or technique for pressure ulcers.
Debridement
There was no evidence that debridement using collagenase, dextranomer, cadexomer iodine, or maggots significantly improved complete healing compared with placebo.
There were no statistically significant differences between enzymatic or mechanical debridement agents with the following exceptions:
Papain urea resulted in better debridement than collagenase.
Calcium alginate resulted in a greater reduction in ulcer size compared to dextranomer.
Adding streptokinase/streptodornase to hydrogel resulted in faster debridement.
Maggot debridement resulted in more complete debridement than conventional treatment.
There is limited evidence on the healing effects of debridement devices.
Dressings
Hydrocolloid dressing was associated with almost three-times more complete healing compared with saline gauze.
There is evidence that hydrogel and hydropolymer may be associated with 50% to 70% more complete healing of pressure ulcers than hydrocolloid dressing.
No statistically significant differences in complete healing were detected among other modern dressings.
There is evidence that polyurethane foam dressings and hydrocellular dressings are more absorbent and easier to remove than hydrocolloid dressings in ulcers with moderate to high exudates.
In deeper ulcers (stage III and IV), the use of alginate with hydrocolloid resulted in significantly greater reduction in the size of the ulcers compared to hydrocolloid alone.
Studies on sustained silver-releasing dressing demonstrated a tendency for reducing the risk of infection and promoting faster healing, but the sample sizes were too small for statistical analysis or for drawing conclusions.
Biological Therapies
The efficacy of platelet-derived growth factors (PDGFs), fibroblast growth factor, and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor in improving complete healing of chronic pressure ulcers has not been established.
Presently only Regranex, a recombinant PDGF, has been approved by Health Canada and only for treatment of diabetic ulcers in the lower extremities.
A March 2008 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) communication reported increased deaths from cancers in people given three or more prescriptions for Regranex.
Limited low-quality evidence on skin matrix and engineered skin equivalent suggests a potential role for these products in healing refractory advanced chronic pressure ulcers, but the evidence is insufficient to draw a conclusion.
Adjunctive Physical Therapy
There is evidence that electrical stimulation may result in a significantly greater reduction in the surface area and more complete healing of stage II to IV ulcers compared with sham therapy. No conclusion on the efficacy of electrotherapy can be drawn because of significant statistical heterogeneity, small sample sizes, and methodological flaws.
The efficacy of other adjunctive physical therapies [electromagnetic therapy, low-level laser (LLL) therapy, ultrasound therapy, ultraviolet light therapy, and negative pressure therapy] in improving complete closure of pressure ulcers has not been established.
Nutrition Therapy
Supplementation with 15 grams of hydrolyzed protein 3 times daily did not affect complete healing but resulted in a 2-fold improvement in Pressure Ulcer Scale for Healing (PUSH) score compared with placebo.
Supplementation with 200 mg of zinc three times per day did not have any significant impact on the healing of pressure ulcers compared with a placebo.
Supplementation of 500 mg ascorbic acid twice daily was associated with a significantly greater decrease in the size of the ulcer compared with a placebo but did not have any significant impact on healing when compared with supplementation of 10 mg ascorbic acid three times daily.
A very high protein tube feeding (25% of energy as protein) resulted in a greater reduction in ulcer area in institutionalized tube-fed patients compared with a high protein tube feeding (16% of energy as protein).
Multinutrient supplements that contain zinc, arginine, and vitamin C were associated with a greater reduction in the area of the ulcers compared with standard hospital diet or to a standard supplement without zinc, arginine, or vitamin C.
Firm conclusions cannot be drawn because of methodological flaws and small sample sizes.
Multidisciplinary Wound Care Teams
The only RCT suggests that multidisciplinary wound care teams may significantly improve healing in the acute care setting in 8 weeks and may significantly shorten the length of hospitalization. However, since only an abstract is available, study biases cannot be assessed and no conclusions can be drawn on the quality of this evidence.
PMCID: PMC3377577  PMID: 23074533
16.  Community clinics for leg ulcers and impact on healing. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1992;305(6866):1389-1392.
OBJECTIVE--To evaluate the effectiveness of community clinics for leg ulcers. DESIGN--All patients with leg ulceration were invited to community clinics that offered treatment developed in a hospital research clinic. Patients without serious arterial disease (Doppler ankle/brachial index > 0.8) were treated with a high compression bandage of four layers. SETTING--Six community clinics held in health centres in Riverside District Health Authority supported by the Charing Cross vascular surgical service. PATIENTS--All patients referred to the community services with leg ulceration, irrespective of cause and duration of ulceration. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Time to complete healing by the life table method. RESULTS--550 ulcerated legs were seen in 475 patients of mean (SD) age 73.8 (11.9) years. There were 477 venous ulcers of median size 4.2 cm2 (range 0.1-117 cm2), 128 being larger than 10 cm2. These ulcers had been present for a median of three months (range one week to 63 years) with 150 present for over one year. Four layer bandaging in the community clinics achieved complete healing in 318 (69%) venous ulcers by 12 weeks and 375 (83%) by 24 weeks. There were 56 patients with an ankle/brachial arterial pressure index < 0.8, indicating arterial disease. The 50 patients with pressure index < 0.8 > 0.5 were treated with reduced compression, and 24 (56%) healed by 12 weeks and 31 (75%) by 24 weeks. The figures for overall healing for all leg ulcers were 351/550 (67%) at 12 weeks and 417/550 (81%) at 24 weeks, compared with only 11/51 (22%) at 12 weeks before the community clinics were set up. CONCLUSIONS--Community clinics for venous ulcers offer an effective means of achieving healing in most patients with leg ulcers.
PMCID: PMC1883915  PMID: 1486301
17.  Sustained compression and healing of chronic venous ulcers. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1988;297(6657):1159-1161.
STUDY OBJECTIVE--Comparison of four layer bandage system with traditional adhesive plaster bandaging in terms of (a) compression achieved and (b) healing of venous ulcers. DESIGN--Part of larger randomised trial of five different dressings. SETTING--Outpatient venous ulcer clinic in university hospital. PATIENTS--(a) Pressure exerted by both bandage systems was measured in the same 20 patients. (b) Healing with the four layer bandage was assessed in 148 legs in 126 consecutive patients (mean age 71 (SE 2); range 30-96) with chronic venous ulcers that had resisted treatment with traditional bandaging for a mean of 27.2 (SE 8) months. INTERVENTIONS--(a) Four layer bandage system or traditional adhesive plaster bandaging for pressure studies; (b) four layer bandaging applied weekly for studies of healing. END POINTS--(a) Comparison of pressures achieved at the ankle for up to one week; (b) complete healing within 12 weeks. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--(a) Four layer bandage produced higher initial pressures at the ankle of 42.5 (SE 1) mm Hg compared with 29.8 (1.8) for the adhesive plaster (p less than 0.001; 95% confidence interval 18.5 to 6.9). Pressure was maintained for one week with the four layer bandage but fell to 10.4 (3.5) mm Hg at 24 hours with adhesive plaster bandaging. (b) After weekly bandaging with the four layer bandage 110 of 48 venous ulcers had healed completely within 12 (mean 6.3 (0.4)) weeks. CONCLUSION--Sustained compression of over 40 mm Hg achieved with a multilayer bandage results in rapid healing of chronic venous ulcers that have failed to heal in many months of compression at lower pressures with more conventional bandages.
PMCID: PMC1834977  PMID: 3144330
18.  Financial Conflicts of Interest and Reporting Bias Regarding the Association between Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain: A Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001578.
Maira Bes-Rastrollo and colleagues examine whether financial conflicts of interest are likely to bias conclusions from systematic reviews that investigate the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain or obesity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Industry sponsors' financial interests might bias the conclusions of scientific research. We examined whether financial industry funding or the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest influenced the results of published systematic reviews (SRs) conducted in the field of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and weight gain or obesity.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a search of the PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Scopus databases to identify published SRs from the inception of the databases to August 31, 2013, on the association between SSB consumption and weight gain or obesity. SR conclusions were independently classified by two researchers into two groups: those that found a positive association and those that did not. These two reviewers were blinded with respect to the stated source of funding and the disclosure of conflicts of interest.
We identified 17 SRs (with 18 conclusions). In six of the SRs a financial conflict of interest with some food industry was disclosed. Among those reviews without any reported conflict of interest, 83.3% of the conclusions (10/12) were that SSB consumption could be a potential risk factor for weight gain. In contrast, the same percentage of conclusions, 83.3% (5/6), of those SRs disclosing some financial conflict of interest with the food industry were that the scientific evidence was insufficient to support a positive association between SSB consumption and weight gain or obesity. Those reviews with conflicts of interest were five times more likely to present a conclusion of no positive association than those without them (relative risk: 5.0, 95% CI: 1.3–19.3).
An important limitation of this study is the impossibility of ruling out the existence of publication bias among those studies not declaring any conflict of interest. However, the best large randomized trials also support a direct association between SSB consumption and weight gain or obesity.
Conclusions
Financial conflicts of interest may bias conclusions from SRs on SSB consumption and weight gain or obesity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In our daily lives, we frequently rely on the results of scientific research to make decisions about our health. If we are healthy, we may seek out scientific advice about how much exercise to do to reduce our risk of a heart attack, and we may follow dietary advice issued by public health bodies to help us maintain a healthy weight. If we are ill, we expect our treatment to be based on the results of clinical trials and other studies. We assume that the scientific research that underlies our decisions about health-related issues is unbiased and accurate. However, there is increasing evidence that the conclusions of industry-sponsored scientific research are sometimes biased. So, for example, reports of drug trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies sometimes emphasize the positive results of trials and “hide” unwanted side effects deep within the report or omit them altogether.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the effects of company sponsors on the conclusions of pharmaceutical research have been extensively examined, little is known about the effects of industry sponsorship on nutrition research, even though large commercial entities are increasingly involved in global food and drink production. It is important to know whether the scientific evidence about nutrition is free of bias because biased information might negatively affect the health of entire populations. Moreover, scientific evidence from nutrition research underlies the formulation of governmental dietary guidelines and food-related public health interventions. In this systematic review, the researchers investigate whether the disclosure of potential financial conflicts of interest (for example, research funding by a beverage company) has influenced the results of systematic reviews undertaken to examine the association between the consumption of highly lucrative sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and weight gain or obesity. Systematic reviews identify all the research on a given topic using predefined criteria. In an ideal world, systematic reviews provide access to all the available evidence on specific exposure–disease associations, but publication bias related to authors' conflicts of interest may affect the reliability of the conclusions of such studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 18 conclusions from 17 systematic reviews that had investigated the association between SSB consumption and weight gain or obesity. In six of these reviews, a financial conflict of interest with a food industry was disclosed. Among the reviews that reported having no conflict of interest, 83.3% of the conclusions were that SSB consumption could be a potential risk factor for weight gain. By contrast, the same percentage of reviews in which a potential financial conflict of interest was disclosed concluded that the scientific evidence was insufficient to support a positive association between SSB consumption and weight gain, or reported contradictory results and did not state any definitive conclusion about the association between SSB consumption and weight gain. Reviews in which a potential conflict of interest was disclosed were five times more likely to present a conclusion of no positive association between SSB consumption and weight gain than reviews that reported having no financial conflict of interest.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that systematic reviews that reported financial conflicts of interest or sponsorship from food or drink companies were more likely to reach a conclusion of no positive association between SSB consumption and weight gain than reviews that reported having no conflicts of interest. A major limitation of this study is that it cannot assess which interpretation of the available evidence is truly accurate. For example, the scientists involved in the systematic reviews that reported having no conflict of interest may have had preexisting prejudices that affected their interpretation of their findings. However, the interests of the food industry (increased sales of their products) are very different from those of most researchers (the honest pursuit of knowledge), and recent randomized trials support a positive association between SSB consumption and overweight/obesity. Thus, these findings draw attention to possible inaccuracies in scientific evidence from research funded by the food and drink industry. They do not imply that industry sponsorship of nutrition research should be avoided entirely. Rather, as in other research areas, clear guidelines and principles (for example, sponsors should sign contracts that state that they will not be involved in the interpretation of results) need to be established to avoid dangerous conflicts of interest.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001578.
The Research Ethics Program at the University of California, San Diego provides an overview of conflicts of interest for researchers and details of US regulations and guidelines
The PLOS Medicine series on Big Food examines the activities and influence of the food industry in global health
A PLOS Medicine Research Article by Basu et al. uses mathematical modeling to investigate whether SSB taxation would avert obesity and diabetes in India
A 2012 policy brief from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity discusses current evidence regarding SSB taxes
The US National Institutes of Health has regulations on financial conflicts of interest for institutions applying to receive funding
Wikipedia has pages on conflict of interest, reporting bias, systematic review, and SSBs (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001578
PMCID: PMC3876974  PMID: 24391479
19.  Oxpentifylline treatment of venous ulcers of the leg. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1990;300(6730):972-975.
OBJECTIVE--To determine the effect of oxpentifylline on the healing of venous ulcers of the leg. DESIGN--Double blind, randomised, prospective, placebo controlled, parallel group study. SETTING--Four outpatient clinics treating leg ulcers in England and the Republic of Ireland. PATIENTS--80 Consecutive patients with clinical evidence of venous ulceration of the leg in whom appreciable arterial disease was excluded by the ratio of ankle to brachial systolic pressure being greater than 0.8. INTERVENTIONS--All patients received either oxpentifylline 400 mg three times a day by mouth or a matching placebo for six months (or until their reference ulcer healed if this occurred sooner) in addition to a locally standardised method of compression bandaging. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--The primary end point was complete healing of the reference ulcer within six months. The secondary end point was the change in the area of the ulcer over the six month observation period. RESULTS--Complete healing of the reference ulcer occurred in 23 of the 38 patients treated with oxpentifylline and in 12 of the 42 patients treated with a placebo. Life table analysis showed that the proportion of ulcers healed at six months was 64% in the group treated with oxpentifylline compared with 34% in the group treated with a placebo (log rank test chi 2 = 4.78, p = 0.03), which was significant (odds ratio = 1.81, 95% confidence interval 1.20 to 2.71). CONCLUSION--Oxpentifylline used in conjunction with compression bandaging improves the healing of venous ulcers of the leg.
PMCID: PMC1662706  PMID: 2256974
20.  Randomised, double blind placebo controlled trial of pentoxifylline in the treatment of venous leg ulcers 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;319(7214):875-878.
Objective
To determine whether pentoxifylline 400 mg (Trental 400) taken orally three times daily, in addition to ambulatory compression bandages and dressings, improves the healing rate of pure venous ulcers.
Design
Randomised, double blind placebo controlled trial, parallel group study of factorial design, permitting the simultaneous evaluation of alternative pharmaceutical, bandaging, and dressings materials.
Setting
Leg ulcer clinics of a teaching and a district general hospital in southern Scotland.
Participants
200 patients with confirmed venous ulcers and in whom other major causal factors were excluded.
Interventions
Pentoxifylline 400 mg three times daily or placebo.
Main outcome measure
Complete healing (full epithelialisation) of all ulcers on the trial leg.
Results
Complete healing occurred in 65 of the 101 (64%) patients receiving pentoxifylline and 52 of the 99 (53%) patients receiving placebo.
Conclusions
The difference in the healing rates between patients taking pentoxifylline and those taking placebo did not reach statistical significance.
Key messagesLeg ulcers cost the NHS around £400 million per annum50%-75% of venous leg ulcers can be succesfully treated with dressings and compression bandages but take many months to healA drug that reduced the healing time of venous ulcers would be useful, although no agent has been proved to be effective to dateTrials with pentoxifylline, a vasoactive drug used in the treatment of peripheral vascular diseases, as an adjunct to the treatment of venous ulcers have been inconclusiveAt the 5% level, pentoxifylline had a non-significant effect on healing rates of pure venous ulcers
PMCID: PMC28239  PMID: 10506039
21.  Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Non-Healing Ulcers in Diabetes Mellitus 
Executive Summary
Objective
To examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat people with diabetes mellitus (DM) and non-healing ulcers. This policy appraisal systematically reviews the published literature in the above patient population, and applies the results and conclusions of the review to current health care practices in Ontario, Canada.
Although HBOT is an insured service in Ontario, the costs for the technical provision of this technology are not covered publicly outside the hospital setting. Moreover, access to this treatment is limited, because many hospitals do not offer it, or are not expanding capacity to meet the demand.
Clinical Need
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease characterized by an increase in blood sugar that can lead to many severe conditions such as vision, cardiac, and vascular disorders. The prevalence of DM is difficult to estimate, because some people who have the condition are undiagnosed or may not be captured through data that reflect access to the health care system. The Canadian Diabetic Association estimates there are about 2 million people in Canada with diabetes (almost 7% of the population). According to recent data, the prevalence of DM increased from 4.72% of the population aged 20 years and over in 1995, to 6.19% of the population aged 20 years and over in 1999, or about 680,900 people in 1999. Prevalence estimates expanded to 700,000 in 2003.
About 10% to 15% of people with DM develop a foot wound in their lifetimes because of underlying peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. This equals between 70,000 and 105,000 people in Ontario, based on the DM prevalence estimate of 700,000 people. Without early treatment, a foot ulcer may fester until it becomes infected and chronic. Chronic wounds are difficult to heal, despite medical and nursing care, and may lead to impaired quality of life and functioning, amputation, or even death.
The Technology
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been in use for about 40 years. It is thought to aid wound healing by supplying oxygen to the wound. According to the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Association, HBOT acts as a bactericidal, stops toxin production, and promotes tissue growth to heal difficult wounds.
During the procedure, a patient is placed in a compression chamber with increased pressure between 2.0 and 2.5 atmospheres absolute for 60 to 120 minutes, once or twice daily. In the chamber, the patient inhales 100% oxygen. Treatment usually runs for 15 to 20 sessions.
Noted complications are rare but may include claustrophobia; ear, sinus, or lung damage due to pressure; temporary worsening of short sightedness; and oxygen poisoning. Careful monitoring during the treatment sessions and follow-up by a trained health care provider is recommended.
Review Strategy
The aims of this health technology policy appraisal were to assess the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of HBOT, either alone, or as an adjunct, compared with the standard treatments for non-healing foot or leg ulcers in patients with DM. The following questions were asked:
Alone or as an adjunct therapy, is HBOT more effective than other therapies for non-healing foot or leg ulcers in patients with DM?
If HBOT is effective, what is the incremental benefit over and above currently used strategies?
When is the best time in a wound treatment strategy to use HBOT?
What is the best treatment algorithm with HBOT?
The Medical Advisory Secretariat searched for health technology assessments in the published and grey literature. The search yielded 4 reports, which were published from 2000 to 2005. The most recent from the Cochrane Collaboration had a literature review and analysis of randomized control trials to 2003.
As an update to this review, as per the standard Medical Advisory Secretariat systematic review strategy, the abstracts of peer-reviewed publications were identified using Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, MEDLINE in-process and not-yet-indexed citations, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane CENTRAL, and INAHTA using key words and searching from January 1, 2003 to 2004.
The criteria for inclusion were as follows:
Patients with diabetes
Live human study
English-language study
HBOT as adjunctive therapy or alone
Randomized control trial
The number of excluded studies included the following:
2 animal studies
13 focus on condition other than DM
8 review/protocol for HBOT use
3 HBOT not focus of report
2 health technology assessments (2)
1 non-RCT
Outcomes of interest were wound healing and prevention of amputation.
The search yielded 29 articles published between 2003 and 2004. All 29 of these were excluded, as shown beside the exclusion criteria above. Therefore, this health technology policy assessment focused exclusively on the most recently published health technology assessments and systematic reviews.
Summary of Findings
Four health technology assessments and reviews were found. Cochrane Collaboration researchers published the most recent review in 2005. They included only randomized controlled trials and conducted a meta-analysis to examine wound healing and amputation outcomes. They found that, based on findings from 118 patients in 3 studies, HBOT may help to prevent major amputation (relative risk, 0.31; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.13–0.71) with a number needed to treat (NNT) of 4 (95% CI, 3–11). They noted, however, that the point estimates derived from trials were not well reported, and had varying populations with respect to wound severity, HBOT regimens, and outcome measures. These noted limitations rendered the comparison of results from the trials difficult. Further, they suggested that the evidence was not strong enough to suggest a benefit for wound healing in general or for prevention of minor amputations.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat also evaluated the studies that the Cochrane Collaboration used in their analysis, and agreed with their evaluation that the quality of the evidence was low for major and minor amputations, but low to moderate for wound healing, suggesting that the results from new and well-conducted studies would likely change the estimates calculated by Cochrane and others.
Conclusions
In 2003, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee recommended a more coordinated strategy for wound care in Ontario to the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. This strategy has begun at the community care and long-term care institution levels, but is pending in other areas of the health care system.
There are about 700,000 people in Ontario with diabetes; of these, 10% to 15% may have a foot ulcer sometime in their lifetimes. Foot ulcers are treatable, however, when they are identified, diagnosed and treated early according to best practice guidelines. Routine follow-up for people with diabetes who may be at risk for neuropathy and/or peripheral vascular disease may prevent subsequent foot ulcers. There are 4 chambers that provide HBOT in Ontario. Fewer than 20 people with DM received HBOT in 2003.
The quality of the evidence assessing the effectiveness of HBOT as an adjunct to standard therapy for people with non-healing diabetic foot ulcers is low, and the results are inconsistent. The results of a recent meta-analysis that found benefit of HBOT to prevent amputation are therefore uncertain. Future well-conducted studies may change the currently published estimates of effectiveness for wound healing and prevention of amputation using HBOT in the treatment of non-healing diabetic foot ulcers.
Although HBOT is an insured service in Ontario, a well conducted, randomized controlled trial that has wound healing and amputation as the primary end-points is needed before this technology is used widely among patients with foot wounds due to diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3382405  PMID: 23074462
22.  Nurse clinic versus home delivery of evidence-based community leg ulcer care: A randomized health services trial 
Background
International studies report that nurse clinics improve healing rates for the leg ulcer population. However, these studies did not necessarily deliver similar standards of care based on evidence in the treatment venues (home and clinic). A rigorous evaluation of home versus clinic care is required to determine healing rates with equivalent care and establish the acceptability of clinic-delivered care.
Methods
Health Services RCT was conducted where mobile individuals were allocated to either home or nurse clinic for leg ulcer management. In both arms, care was delivered by specially trained nurses, following an evidence protocol. Primary outcome: 3-month healing rates. Secondary outcomes: durability of healing (recurrence), time free of ulcers, HRQL, satisfaction, resource use. Data were collected at base-line, every 3 months until healing occurred, with 1 year follow-up. Analysis was by intention to treat.
Results
126 participants, 65 randomized to receive care in their homes, 61 to nurse-run clinics. No differences found between groups at baseline on socio-demographic, HRQL or clinical characteristics. mean age 69 years, 68% females, 84% English-speaking, half with previous episode of ulceration, 60% ulcers at inclusion < 5 cm2 for < 6 months. No differences in 3-month healing rates: clinic 58.3% compared to home care at 56.7% (p = 0.5) or in secondary outcomes.
Conclusion
Our findings indicate that organization of care not the setting where care is delivered influences healing rates. Key factors are a system that supports delivery of evidence-based recommendations with care being provided by a trained nursing team resulting in equivalent healing rates, HRQL whether care is delivered in the home or in a community nurse-led clinic.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov Protocol Registration System: NCT00656383
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-243
PMCID: PMC2630316  PMID: 19036149
23.  Topical Silver for Infected Wounds 
Journal of Athletic Training  2009;44(5):531-533.
Abstract
Reference/Citation:
Vermeulen H, van Hattem JM, Storm-Versloot MN, Ubbink DT. Topical silver for treating infected wounds. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007(1);CD005486.
Clinical Question:
What is the clinical evidence base for silver dressings in the management of contaminated and infected acute and chronic wounds?
Data Sources:
Investigations were identified by Cochrane Wounds Group Specialized Register (2006), CENTRAL (2006), MEDLINE (2002–2006), EMBASE (2002–2006), CINAHL (2002–2006), and digital dissertations (2006) searches. Product manufacturers were contacted to identify additional eligible studies. The search terms included wound infection, surgical wound infection, ulcer, wound healing, and silver.
Study Selection:
Each study fulfilled the following criteria: (1) The study was a randomized controlled trial of human participants that compared dressings containing silver with any dressings without silver, dressings with other antiseptics, or dressings with different dosages of silver. (2) The participants were aged 18 years and older with contaminated and infected open wounds of any cause. (3) The study had to evaluate the effectiveness of the dressings using an objective measure of healing. No language or publication status restrictions were imposed, and participants could be recruited in any care setting. Studies were excluded if the wounds were ostomies (surgically formed passages).
Data Extraction:
Study quality assessment was conducted independently by 3 authors using the Dutch Institute for Health Care Improvement and Dutch Cochrane Centre protocols. Characteristics of the study, participants, interventions, and outcome measures were extracted by one author and verified by a second using a standard form. The principal outcome measure was healing (time to complete healing, rate of change in wound area and volume, number and proportion of wounds healed within trial period). Secondary measures were adverse events (eg, pain, maceration, erythema), dressing leakage, and wound odor. Based on the unique comparisons in the studies, a meta-analysis was not conducted. As a result, summary estimates of treatment effect were calculated for each outcome comparison. RevMan software (version 4.2; Cochrane Centre, Oxford, United Kingdom) was used for statistical analysis.
Main Results:
Specific search criteria identified 31 studies for review, of which 3 met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Lack of randomization and absence of wound infections excluded the majority of studies from the review. In the 3 studies selected, silver-containing dressings were compared with nonsilver dressings and dressings with other antimicrobials. One group used a silver-containing foam dressing and a nonsilver foam dressing; another group used a silver-containing alginate and a nonsilver alginate; and a third group used a silver-containing foam and various dressings (nonsilver foams, alginates, hydrocolloids, and gauze and other antimicrobial dressings). Sample sizes ranged between 99 and 619 participants. Most of the wounds in the included studies were pressure, diabetic, and venous leg ulcers. Wound infection was subjectively defined by 1 group as the presence of 2 or more signs and symptoms (eg, continuous pain, erythema, heat, or moderate to high levels of exudate) and by the other 2 groups as signs of critical colonization (eg, delayed healing, increased pain and exudate levels, discoloration, and odor). The primary measure in the included studies was healing outcome. The 3 groups used various assessments of healing, including relative and absolute reduction in wound area and number of wounds healed during the trial period. The trial period in each study was 4 weeks. In the 3 trials, the authors randomized the participants to the treatment groups.
Examining healing, one group (129 participants) compared Contreet silver foam (Coloplast A/S, Humlebaek, Denmark) with Allevyn foam (Smith & Nephew, St-Laurent, Quebec, Canada). The authors reported no differences for rates of complete healing (risk difference [RD]  =  0.00, 95% confidence interval [CI]  =  −0.09, 0.09) and median wound area reduction (weighted mean difference [WMD]  =  −0.30 cm2, 95% CI  =  −2.92, 2.35). However, Contreet was favored over Allevyn (P  =  .034) for median relative reduction in wound area (WMD  =  −15.70 cm2, 95% CI  =  −29.5, −1.90). One group (99 participants) compared Silvercel silver alginate (Johnson & Johnson Wound Management, Somerville, NJ) with Algosteril alginate (Johnson & Johnson Wound Management). The authors found no differences in rates of complete healing (RD  =  0.00, 95% CI  =  −0.06, 0.05), mean absolute (WMD  =  4.50 cm2, 95% CI  =  −0.93, 9.93) and relative wound area reduction (WMD  =  −0.30 cm2, 95% CI  =  −17.08, 16.48), or healing rate per day (week 1 to 4) (WMD  =  0.16 cm2, 95% CI  =  −0.03, 0.35). One group (619 participants) compared Contreet with various dressings (nonsilver foams, alginates, hydrocolloids, and gauze and other antimicrobial dressings). For median relative wound area reduction, the authors noted a superiority of Contreet over the various dressings (P  =  .0019).
Examining secondary outcomes, 2 groups used subjective analysis to compare adverse reactions among the dressings. One group reported no difference between Contreet (in satellite ulcers, deterioration of periwound tissue) and Allevyn (in satellite ulcers, maceration, eczema) (RD  =  0.02, 95% CI  =  −0.07, 0.12), and one group found no difference between Silvercel (in pain during dressing change, eczema, periwound erythema, maceration) and Algosteril (in pain during dressing change, eczema, erythema) (RD  =  −0.01, 95% CI  =  −0.12, 0.11). Two groups subjectively assessed leakage among silver and nonsilver dressings. The data from one group demonstrated superiority of Contreet over Allevyn (P  =  .002; RD  =  −0.30, 95% CI  =  −0.47, −0.13), and one group found Contreet better than various dressings (eg, nonsilver foams, alginates, hydrocolloids, and gauze, and other antimicrobial dressings) (P  =  .0005; RD  =  −0.11, 95% CI  =  −0.18, −0.05). Using a subjective 4-point scale, one group compared silver and nonsilver dressings and reported a difference favoring Contreet over Allevyn in terms of wound odor (P  =  .030; RD  =  −0.19, 95% CI  =  −0.36, −0.03).
Conclusions:
Overall, this review provides no clear evidence to support the use of silver-containing foam and alginate dressings in the management of infected chronic wounds for up to 4 weeks. However, the use of silver foam dressings resulted in a greater reduction in wound size and more effective control of leakage and odor than did use of nonsilver dressings. Randomized controlled trials using standardized outcome measures and longer follow-up periods are needed to determine the most appropriate dressing for contaminated and infected acute and chronic wounds.
doi:10.4085/1062-6050-44.5.531
PMCID: PMC2742464  PMID: 19771293
antiseptics; moist dressings; critical colonization; contamination
24.  The Effect of a Connexin43-Based Peptide on the Healing of Chronic Venous Leg Ulcers: A Multicenter, Randomized Trial 
The gap junction protein, connexin43 (Cx43), has critical roles in the inflammatory, edematous, and fibrotic processes following dermal injury and during wound healing, and is abnormally upregulated at the epidermal wound margins of venous leg ulcers (VLUs). Targeting Cx43 with ACT1, a peptide mimetic of the carboxyl-terminus of Cx43, accelerates fibroblast migration and proliferation, and wound reepithelialization. In a prospective, multicenter clinical trial conducted in India, adults with chronic VLUs were randomized to treatment with an ACT1 gel formulation plus conventional standard-of-care (SOC) protocols, involving maintaining wound moisture and four-layer compression bandage therapy, or SOC protocols alone. The primary end point was mean percent ulcer reepithelialization from baseline to 12 weeks. A significantly greater reduction in mean percent ulcer area from baseline to 12 weeks was associated with the incorporation of ACT1 therapy (79% (SD 50.4)) as compared with compression bandage therapy alone (36% (SD 179.8); P=0.02). Evaluation of secondary efficacy end points indicated a reduced median time to 50 and 100% ulcer reepithelialization for ACT1-treated ulcers. Incorporation of ACT1 in SOC protocols may represent a well-tolerated, highly effective therapeutic strategy that expedites chronic venous ulcer healing by treating the underlying ulcer pathophysiology through Cx43-mediated pathways.
doi:10.1038/jid.2014.318
PMCID: PMC4269806  PMID: 25072595
25.  Venous ulcer healing: effect of socioeconomic factors in London. 
OBJECTIVE--To determine which social and clinical factors are associated with healing in patients with venous ulceration. DESIGN--Patients were questioned about social factors at their first visit to a community ulcer clinic. They were treated by high compression bandage system and were interviewed again after 12 weeks. SETTING--Community leg ulcer clinics held in health centres throughout Riverside Health Authority in London. PATIENTS--All patients referred to five community leg ulcer clinics with venous ulceration over a six month period. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--These were factors significantly associated with healing within 12 weeks of beginning treatment, measured by odds ratio (OR) given by logistic regression analysis. MAIN RESULTS--Of 168 patients with venous ulceration, 87 (52%) healed after 12 weeks of treatment. Univariate analysis showed that low social class (OR = 3.44, 95% CI 1.17, 10.14), lack of central heating (OR = 2.22, 95% CI 1.18, 4.18), and being single (OR = 2.77, 95% CI 1.15, 6.69) were all significantly associated with delayed healing. After adjustment for the known risk factors of ulcer size, ulcer duration, and general mobility only lack of central heating was still significant (OR = 2.27, 95% CI 1.11, 4.55). The remaining factors failing to achieve statistical significance because of their inter-relationship with the known risk factors. CONCLUSIONS--Clinical features of the ulcer seem to determine the progress of healing in patients with leg ulceration. Although there were associations between socio-economic factors and poor healing, adjustment for clinical risk factors generally led to lower non-significant associations. Only lack of central heating retained its association and may play a part in prolonging healing of venous ulceration.
PMCID: PMC1060126  PMID: 7650461

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