Efficacy and safety of extracorporeal shock wave therapy for acute and chronic soft tissue wounds: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Int Wound J. 2018 Aug;15(4):590-599. doi: 10.1111/iwj.12902. Epub 2018 Apr 19.


This study aimed to evaluate and compare the effects of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) and conventional wound therapy (CWT) for acute and chronic soft tissue wounds. All English-language articles on ESWT for acute and chronic soft tissue wounds indexed in PubMed, Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Library, Physiotherapy Evidence Database, and HealthSTAR published prior to June 2017 were included, as well as corresponding articles cited in reference lists of related review articles. The methodological quality of the selected studies was assessed with the Cochrane Collaboration's "risk of bias" tool. Study design, subject demographics, wound aetiology, treatment protocols, assessment indexes, and follow-up duration were extracted. The fixed or random-effects model was used to calculate the pooled effect sizes according to studies' heterogeneity. Ten randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving 473 patients were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. The meta-analysis showed that ESWT statistically significantly increased the healing rate of acute and chronic soft tissue wounds 2.73-fold (odds ratio, OR = 3.73, 95% confidence interval, CI: 2.30-6.04, P < .001) and improved wound-healing area percentage by 30.45% (Standardized Mean Difference (SMD) = 30.45; 95% CI: 23.79-37.12; P < .001). ESWT reduced wound-healing time by 3 days (SMD = -2.86, 95% CI:-3.78 to -1.95, P < .001) for acute soft tissue wounds and 19 days (SMD = -19.11, 95% CI: -23.74 to -14.47, P < .001) for chronic soft tissue wounds and the risk of wound infection by 53% (OR = 0.47, 95% CI: 0.24-0.92, P = .03) when compared with CWT alone. Serious adverse effects were not reported. ESWT showed better therapeutic effects on acute and chronic soft tissue wounds compared with CWT alone. However, higher-quality and well-controlled RCTs are needed to further assess the role of ESWT for acute and chronic soft tissue wounds.

Keywords: meta-analysis; rehabilitation; shock wave therapy; wound healing; wounds.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease / therapy*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing / physiology*