Background & aims: Nutrients putatively implicated in pressure ulcer healing were evaluated in a clinical setting.
Methods: Sixteen inpatients with a stage 2, 3 or 4 pressure ulcer randomised to receive daily a standard hospital diet; a standard diet plus two high-protein/energy supplements; or a standard diet plus two high-protein/energy supplements containing additional arginine (9 g), vitamin C (500 mg) and zinc (30 mg). Nutritional status measurements (dietary, anthropometric and biochemical) and pressure ulcer size and severity (by PUSH tool; Pressure Ulcer Scale for Healing; 0=completely healed, 17=greatest severity) were measured weekly for 3 weeks.
Results: Patients' age and BMI ranges were 37-92 years and 16.4-28.1 k g/m2) respectively. Baseline PUSH scores were similar between groups (8.7+/-0.5). Only patients receiving additional arginine, vitamin C and zinc demonstrated a clinically significant improvement in pressure ulcer healing (9.4+/-1.2 vs. 2.6+/-0.6; baseline and week 3, respectively; P<0.01). All patient groups presented with low serum albumin and zinc and elevated C-reactive protein. There were no significant changes in biochemical markers, oral dietary intake or weight in any group.
Conclusions: In this small set of patients, supplementary arginine, vitamin C and zinc significantly improved the rate of pressure ulcer healing. The results need to be confirmed in a larger study.