Effect of electrical stimulation on chronic wound healing: a meta-analysis

Wound Repair Regen. Nov-Dec 1999;7(6):495-503. doi: 10.1046/j.1524-475x.1999.00495.x.


The purpose of this meta-analysis was to quantify the effect of electrical stimulation on chronic wound healing. Fifteen studies, which included 24 electrical stimulation samples and 15 control samples, were analyzed. The average rate of healing per week was calculated for the electrical stimulation and control samples. Ninety-five percentage confidence intervals were also calculated. The samples were then grouped by type of electrical stimulation device and chronic wound and reanalyzed. Rate of healing per week was 22% for electrical stimulation samples and 9% for control samples. The net effect of electrical stimulation was 13% per week, an increase of 144% over the control rate. The 95% confidence intervals of the electrical stimulation (18-26%) and control samples (3.8-14%) did not overlap. Electrical stimulation was most effective on pressure ulcers (net effect = 13%). Findings regarding the relative effectiveness of different types of electrical stimulation device were inconclusive. Although electrical stimulation produces a substantial improvement in the healing of chronic wounds, further research is needed to identify which electrical stimulation devices are most effective and which wounds respond best to this treatment.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Leg Ulcer / therapy
  • Pressure Ulcer / therapy
  • Wound Healing / physiology*