Numerous, often multi-faceted regimens are available for treating complex wounds, yet the evidence of these interventions is recondite across the literature. We aimed to identify effective interventions to treat complex wounds through an overview of systematic reviews.
MEDLINE (OVID interface, 1946 until October 26, 2012), EMBASE (OVID interface, 1947 until October 26, 2012), and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Issue 10 of 12, 2012) were searched on October 26, 2012. Systematic reviews that examined adults receiving care for their complex wounds were included. Two reviewers independently screened the literature, abstracted data, and assessed study quality using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) tool.
Overall, 99 systematic reviews were included after screening 6,200 titles and abstracts and 422 full-texts; 54 were systematic reviews with a meta-analysis (including data on over 54,000 patients) and 45 were systematic reviews without a meta-analysis. Overall, 44% of included reviews were rated as being of high quality (AMSTAR score ≥8). Based on data from systematic reviews including a meta-analysis with an AMSTAR score ≥8, promising interventions for complex wounds were identified. These included bandages or stockings (multi-layer, high compression) and wound cleansing for venous leg ulcers; four-layer bandages for mixed arterial/venous leg ulcers; biologics, ultrasound, and hydrogel dressings for diabetic leg/foot ulcers; hydrocolloid dressings, electrotherapy, air-fluidized beds, and alternate foam mattresses for pressure ulcers; and silver dressings and ultrasound for unspecified mixed complex wounds. For surgical wound infections, topical negative pressure and vacuum-assisted closure were promising interventions, but this was based on evidence from moderate to low quality systematic reviews.
Numerous interventions can be utilized for patients with varying types of complex wounds, yet few treatments were consistently effective across all outcomes throughout the literature. Clinicians and patients can use our results to tailor effective treatment according to type of complex wound. Network meta-analysis will be of benefit to decision-makers, as it will permit multiple treatment comparisons and ranking of the effectiveness of all interventions. Please see related article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-015-0326-3.