Chronic ulcers in the elderly – prevention and treatment

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  • The scientific evidence for the prevention and treatment of chronic ulcers in the elderly is limited. For the majority of interventions, more research of good scientific quality is required. The elderly population often has co-morbidities and multiple medications, which can affect ulcer healing and introduce bias into the studies.
  • It is unclear to what extent different methods for the treatment and prevention of chronic ulcers are currently used in clinical praxis in Sweden. Based on this review the following conclusions can be drawn:
    • Surgery of varicose veins can reduce the recurrence of venous leg ulcers in the elderly.
    • Dressings containing calcium alginate may lead to shorter healing time of pressure ulcers in the elderly. Healing effects of other dressings in this specific age group are insufficiently studied.
  • Substantial gaps in our knowledge exist regarding how the organisation of wound management (wound healing centres, education and training, communication, coordination and continuity) impacts both the healing and recurrence of chronic ulcers.
  • Varicose vein surgery as causal treatment of venous leg ulcers can be cost effective.

How to cite this report: SBU. Chronic ulcers in the elderly – prevention and treatment. Stockholm: Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment (SBU); 2014. SBU report no 226 (in Swedish).

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SBU Assessment presents a comprehensive, systematic assessment of available scientific evidence. The certainty of the evidence for each finding is systematically reviewed and graded. Full assessments include economic, social, and ethical impact analyses.

SBU assessments are performed by a team of leading professional practitioners and academics, patient/user representatives and SBU staff. Prior to approval and publication, assessments are reviewed by independent experts, SBU’s Scientific Advisory Committees and Board of Directors.

Published: 8/26/2014
Report no: 226