Weiss DS, et al. Electrical stimulation and wound healing. Arch Dermatol 1990:126:222-2325.
Electrical stimulation (ES) has been shown to have beneficial effects in wound healing. It is important to assess the effects of ES on cutaneous wound healing in order to ensure optimization for clinical practice. Several different applications as well as modalities of ES have been described, including direct current (DC), alternating current (AC), high-voltage pulsed current (HVPC), low-intensity direct current (LIDC) and electrobiofeedback ES. However, no one method has been advocated as the most optimal for the treatment of cutaneous wound healing. Therefore, this review aims to examine the level of evidence (LOE) for the application of different types of ES to enhance cutaneous wound healing in the skin. An extensive search was conducted to identify relevant clinical studies utilising ES for cutaneous wound healing since 1980 using PubMed, Medline and EMBASE. A total of 48 studies were evaluated and assigned LOE. All types of ES demonstrated positive effects on cutaneous wound healing in the majority of studies. However, the reported studies demonstrate contrasting differences in the parameters and types of ES application, leading to an inability to generate sufficient evidence to support any one standard therapeutic approach. Despite variations in the type of current, duration, and dosing of ES, the majority of studies showed a significant improvement in wound area reduction or accelerated wound healing compared to the standard of care or sham therapy as well as improved local perfusion. The limited number of LOE-1 trials for investigating the effects of ES in wound healing make critical evaluation and assessment somewhat difficult. Further, better-designed clinical trials are needed to improve our understanding of the optimal dosing, timing and type of ES to be used.