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Review: evidence for use of systemic antibiotics and topical antiseptics for venous leg ulcers is insufficient

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S O’Meara

Ms S O’Meara, University of York, York, UK;


Are systemic antibiotics and topical antibiotics and antiseptics effective for treatment of venous leg ulcers?


Studies selected compared systemic antibiotics or topical antibiotics or antiseptics with placebo, no treatment, usual care, another antibiotic or antiseptic, or another treatment in patients with venous leg ulcers. Studies involving topical silver-based preparations or honey were excluded. Outcomes were objective measures of wound healing (time to healing, proportion of ulcers completely healed, change in ulcer size, or healing rate).


Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register, Medline, CINAHL, and EMBASE/Excerpta Medica (to Oct 2007); Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Issue 4, 2007); and reference lists were searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs). 22 RCTs met the selection criteria; treatments assessed were systemic antibiotics (5 RCTs, n = 232), cadexomer iodine (10 RCTs, n = 645), povidone iodine (2 RCTs, n = 300), peroxides (3 RCTs, n = 83), and miscellaneous topical preparations (2 RCTs, n = 283). Median duration of follow-up was 6 …

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  • Source of funding: Department of Health Cochrane Review Incentive Scheme 2006; North Yorkshire and East Coast Foundation School.