Background: Resin salve of the Norway spruce (Picea abies) has been used in folk medicine to heal wounds and infections.
Objectives: To study its clinical effectiveness in the treatment of pressure ulcers of the skin.
Methods: A prospective, randomized, controlled multicentre trial involving 37 patients with grade II-IV pressure ulcers in 11 primary care hospitals was carried out between 2005 and 2007. The ulcers were randomly allocated to receive either resin salve or sodium carboxymethylcellulose hydrocolloid polymer treatment. The inclusion criterion was grade II-IV pressure ulcer. Exclusion criteria were a life expectancy of less than 6 months or a malignant disease. The primary outcome measure was complete healing of the ulcer within 6 months. Secondary outcome measures were partial healing of the ulcer, and successful eradication of bacterial strains cultured from the ulcers at study entry.
Results: Thirteen patients of the resin group and nine patients of the control group completed the 6-month trial. All ulcers healed in 12 of the 13 patients (92%) in the resin group and in four of the nine patients (44%) in the control group (P=0.003; power 73%). Complete healing of the ulcers over time was significantly more common in the resin group than in the control group (P=0.013). Bacterial cultures from the ulcer area more often became negative within 1 month in the resin group.
Conclusions: Traditional resin salve is significantly more effective in the treatment of infected and noninfected severe pressure ulcers than cellulose polymer gauzes.