A review of mechanical adjuncts in wound healing: hydrotherapy, ultrasound, negative pressure therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, and electrostimulation

Ann Plast Surg. 2003 Aug;51(2):210-8. doi: 10.1097/01.SAP.0000058513.10033.6B.


Chronic or non-healing wounds may develop in the setting of many diseases and are the source of considerable morbidity as well as health costs. These wounds demand an aggressive, multifactorial approach including surgical debridement, revascularization, antibiotics and dressings. In addition several adjuvant treatment methods have been developed to further stimulate healing. Whirlpool, although used frequently, has not been proven to be of benefit. However, pulsed lavage does show a promising future. Ultrasound has demonstrated beneficial effects but further controlled studies are needed. Subatmospheric pressure therapy is associated with few complications and is fast becoming a mainstay of adjuvant therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown to be effective for many types of wounds. Unfortunately, cost and access to chambers may prohibit its use on a routine basis. Finally, electrostimulation may be one of the up and coming therapies for the future. Though, more studies are needed to determine the mode of delivery for various types of wounds.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation Therapy
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation
  • Pressure
  • Ultrasonic Therapy
  • Vacuum
  • Wound Healing*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*