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Ultrasound-emitting "band-aids" speed healing of venous ulcers

By

August 7, 2013

One of the prototype ulcer-healing patches

One of the prototype ulcer-healing patches

Venous ulcers are nasty things, often found on the lower extremities of elderly or inactive people. They occur when high blood pressure causes the skin adjacent to the affected veins to break down, leaving open wounds that take months or even years to heal. Standard treatments include compression bandages, infection control and standard wound dressings, although these approaches don’t work in all cases. Now, however, scientists are getting good results using band-aid-like patches that emit ultrasound into the ulcers.

It’s been suspected for some time that ultrasound could have a curative effect on the ulcers, although most studies have investigated the use of fairly high frequencies – around 1 to 3 megahertz. Instead, a group of scientists from Philadelphia’s Drexel University tried using frequencies that were considerably lower.

Test subject patients were divided into four groups, each group receiving either 20 kHz for 15 minutes, 20 kHz for 45 minutes, 100 kHz for 15 minutes, or 15 minutes of a placebo. It was the first group that ultimately came out best, with all five participants completely healed as of their fourth session. By contrast, the ulcers on the placebo group actually got worse over the same time period.

It’s still not exactly clear why a longer exposure to the ultrasound doesn’t work even better, but the scientists did achieve similar results when they tested the affects of ultrasound on mouse fibroblasts (cells that are involved in wound healing).

Although the treatment certainly shows promise, standard ultrasound transducers can be big and bulky, and need to be plugged into an AC outlet ... which is why the patch was created. In its current form, it weighs 100 grams and runs off two rechargeable AA batteries. It’s designed to be worn over the ulcer while the patient is at home, delivering controlled pulses of ultrasound to the wound. It also features a monitoring component, that uses near infrared spectroscopy to assess how well the ulcer is healing.

Before it can see widespread use, however, larger-scale studies of its efficacy and safety need to be conducted. One such trial is currently under way, in which 20 patients are being treated with the patches.

The research is being led by Dr. Peter A. Lewin, and has received funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Source: NIBIB

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
9 Comments

Exciting stuff.

Ultrasound and low frequency RF for healing is the future.

I've even read that certain RF frequencies destroy specific bacteria/viruses.

In future people might be able to mount these devices in their living room to improve their general well being.

Wonder how long before the medical and pharmaceutical institutions discredit this research. Dangerous knowledge.

Nairda
7th August, 2013 @ 05:42 pm PDT

I agree with Nairda. The same laboratory was closed in Russia by pharmaceutical corporations 5 years ago. Because the treatment system is very simple - device sending signal with opposite wave like disease having.

Alexander Yashin
8th August, 2013 @ 04:48 am PDT

I'm interested in how often the standard treatments don't work. The first paragraph says they don't work "in all cases". (!) Why on earth would doctors use a treatment that never works?

piperTom
8th August, 2013 @ 06:25 am PDT

This smacks of Rife Technology to me in some aspects.

Also I can guarantee this will be gathering dust on the shelf as Big Pharma and Company will lose money in repeat business.

Also these devices are very cheap to produce.No fat profits,no patents.

You can even get toys and pound shop window alarms that generate

20 kilohertz sound waves using piezoelectric sounders.

You can even make these devices yourself using the famous 555 timer chip.

esecallum
8th August, 2013 @ 08:12 am PDT

For those interested in alternative therapies, it may be worth while to investigate "light therapy." From what I've read and personally tried, blue light kills bacteria and red stimulates genetic healing within the cells. As an example, I came down with a hand infection a few years ago and was given huge doses of antibiotics at the local ER. After a month, no improvement. In fact, the infection was starting to wrap around my hand. I started to get worried and did a little research and stumbled onto the "light therapy" concept. After doing a few hours of research on the web, I pulled a blue led flashlight out of a drawer and used it on my hand. That night it started to itch. By the next day, it had started to turn brown. I hit it again, thinking if a little works a lot will do the job. It did. When I went in to see my regular MD, a couple of weeks later, he declared the infection gone. He was also an infectious disease specialist. I didn't tell him what I did because I was sure he would think I was nuts or or, at least, a little delusional. As a footnote, there is a company that is now making hospital sanitizing systems based on the ability to blue light to kill bacteria. I thought this was interesting. Anyway, for those open minded enough to explore alternative treatments, the use of light frequencies might be worth looking into. Especially if they have something the pills can't kill.

[Also see our article on the antimicrobial qualities of blue light, at: http://www.gizmag.com/blue-light-kills-bacteria/26026/ – Ed.]

Goose
8th August, 2013 @ 10:18 am PDT

To add to Goose's notes on light therapy, far infrared (just outside of visible) is also good for vitamin D activation which in turn has a long list of benefits for the body.

The best source is sunrise and sunset when most of the near infrared (perceived as heat) is blocked by the atmosphere. Even more reason to walk in the afternoon after work. :)

Certain clay ceramics and rocks also produce this frequency when heated.

One day when I have more time I'll make a 'well being' box that emits all the good stuff, and place it on my desk. :b

Nairda
8th August, 2013 @ 05:56 pm PDT

Peter Piper said: "I'm interested in how often the standard treatments don't work. The first paragraph says they don't work "in all cases". (!) Why on earth would doctors use a treatment that never works? "

---------------------------------------------------

Ask yourself why medications 'don't work in all cases'? Please explain your reasoning that equates " don't work in all cases" with "never working" at all.

No treatment is 100% effective in all patients. There are too many variables.

Facebook User
9th August, 2013 @ 10:56 pm PDT

Venous ulcers are caused by either refluxing perforators or reflux from the great saphenous or small saphenous veins. The majority of the time they are from refluxing perforators. Perforators are small vessels that link the superficial venous system (great or small saphenous veins) to the deep system. When the one-way valve in the perforator becomes incompetent and the blood flows backwards to the area under the skin, if the pressure becomes high enough and for a long enough period of time, the tissue starts to break down. Too much pressure does not allow the capillaries to deliver oxygen rich blood to the surrounding tissue. In our vein practice our experience is that venous ulcers usually heal in 2 to 6 weeks after closing the refluxing perforators by either sclerotherapy or endovenous laser. We have been doing this for years . Saying all of this, I am so intrigued by this ultrasound therapy. I would love to real-time the ultrasound therapy by ultrasound to see if this treatment has any effect on the refluxing perforators. Also, most wound clinics do not acknowledge refluxing perforators, they wrap and treat the ulcers with antibiotics.

Kiko
16th August, 2013 @ 08:09 am PDT

This is great. I just hope that these ultrasound-emitting band aids will be effective. It will surely cost a lot of money.

Dorothy Mae Mojica
30th August, 2013 @ 04:14 am PDT
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