Negative pressure wound therapy: a systematic review on effectiveness and safety

Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2008 Oct;36(4):438-48. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2008.06.010. Epub 2008 Aug 3.


Objectives: We reviewed the use of negative pressure wound treatment (NPWT) for problematic wounds.

Methods: A systematic literature review was undertaken to assess the effectiveness and safety of NPWT. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing NPWT were included.

Results: A total of 14 RCTs were included. Trials included patients with pressure wounds (2), post-traumatic wounds (3), diabetic foot ulcers (4) and miscellaneous chronic ulcers (5). In all trials NPWT was at least as effective and in some cases more effective than the control treatment. Most evidence supports the effectiveness of NPWT on chronic leg ulcers and posttraumatic ulcers. NPWT appears to be a safe treatment, and serious adverse events have been rarely reported. Only two trials were classified as high quality studies, whereas the remaining were classified as having poor internal validity.

Conclusions: Reliable evidence on the effectiveness of NPWT is scarce. Tentative evidence indicates that the effectiveness of NPWT is at least as good as or better than current local treatment for wounds. The need for large high-quality randomised studies is apparent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Diabetic Foot / therapy
  • Humans
  • Leg Injuries / therapy*
  • Leg Ulcer / therapy*
  • Negative-Pressure Wound Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Pressure Ulcer / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing