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Dermatology Online Journal

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Comparing the efficacies of alginate, foam, hydrocolloid, hydrofiber, and hydrogel dressings in the management of diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers: a systematic review and meta-analysis examining how to dress for success


Diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers are chronic wounds frequently encountered by dermatologists. Choosing appropriate wound dressings can effectively promote wound healing and potentially reduce morbidity and financial burden experienced by patients. The objective of our systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate wound healing efficacies of synthetic active dressings in diabetic foot ulcer and venous leg ulcer management. For data collection, PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and online databases were searched from database inception to 10 May 2015. Fixed and random effects modeling were used to calculate pooled risk ratios for complete ulcer healing from pairwise dressing comparisons. The results of our review showed moderate-quality level evidence that hydrogels were more effective in healing diabetic foot ulcers than basic wound contact dressings (RR 1.80 [95% CI, 1.27-2.56]). The other dressing comparisons showed no statistically significant differences between the interventions examined in terms of achieving complete diabetic foot ulcer healing. Non-adherent dressings were more cost-effective than hydrofiber dressings for diabetic foot ulcers in terms of mean total cost per patient of the dressings themselves. All venous leg ulcer pairwise dressing comparisons showed equivalent dressing efficacies in terms of promoting complete ulcer healing. Overall, most synthetic active dressings and traditional wound dressings are equally efficacious in treating diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers. For treating diabetic foot ulcers, hydrogels are more efficacious than basic wound contact dressings, and non-adherent dressings are more cost-effective than hydrofiber dressings. Ultimately, dressing choice should be tailored to the wound and the patient

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