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Foot ulcer dressings "all equal"

Research has found that there is no superior type of dressing for the treatment of chronic diabetic foot ulcers, a result which could save the NHS millions of pounds.

A large number of products are available for the dressing of ulcers, ranging from the simple and inexpensive to the sophisticated and costly.

However, in a trial, the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR, HTA) found there was no clinical difference between the dressings.

Around 15% of diabetes sufferers will get ulcers of the foot, with around half of these taking more than six months to heal.

In the trial, at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, three different types of dressing were compared - a simple dry dressing, a dressing which is impregnated with iodine, and a modern hydrofibre dressing.

The dressings were applied at random to 317 patients who had had ulcers for at least six weeks. The dressings were used to manage the ulcers for at least six months, or until they healed.

The researchers found that none of the dressings were more effective at healing ulcers in the given time, and none had more of an effect on the patients' quality of life or health.

Professor William J Jeffcoate, who led the trial said: "We have found no evidence to suggest any difference in the effectiveness, safety or health-related quality of life between these dressings."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment