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Shock wave therapy ineffective on horse wounds

August 31, 2010

A study in Canada on the use of shock wave therapy to promote wound healing found that there was less proud flesh but wounds did not heal any faster.

Wounds to the horse's lower limbs are commonly complicated by the development of exuberant granulation tissue ("proud flesh"), which can delay healing and make scar formation more likely.

Dr Andressa Silveira and colleagues at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, found that wounds treated with unfocused extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) seemed to produce less proud flesh, and looked healthier than untreated wounds, although they did not heal more quickly.

The researchers made five full-thickness skin wounds, (2.5cm x 2.5cm) on the dorsal aspect of the metacarpus of both fore limbs of each of six horses.

They treated one leg from each horse with ESWT, and left the other limb untreated to act as a control.

The wounds were treated immediately after they were made and then at weekly intervals for a total of four occasions. Each treatment comprised 625 pulses - distributed evenly around the wound and surrounding healthy skin edges.

The researchers found that control wounds were more likely (1.9x) to appear inflamed than were treated wounds. Untreated wounds also had higher exuberant granulation tissue scores.

However, there was no significant difference between biopsies taken from treated and untreated wounds at weekly intervals throughout the study. Neither did treatment have any effect on wound size.

Further investigations are required before shock wave therapy can be recommended for wound treatment. ESWT may be helpful, but so far, there is not enough evidence to support its use in clinical cases.



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