Pentoxifylline beneficial for treating leg ulcers

Results of a systematic review in this weeks issue of THE LANCET suggest that the drug pentoxifylline could be effective in the treatment of leg ulcers, either in addition to compression therapy, or as sole treatment when compression therapy is not effective.

Venous leg ulcers are associated with circulatory disorders and are common among people aged 65 years or older. In European countries, the management of venous leg ulcers accounts for around 1% of all health-care costs. The standard treatment for venous leg ulcers is compression therapy, involving the use of stretch bandaging; however, up to a third of people may remain unhealed after one year of treatment. Andrew Jull and colleagues from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, did a systematic review of randomised controlled trials that compared pentoxifylline (a drug which improves blood circulation) with placebo, or other treatments, in patients with venous leg ulcers.

The investigators identified eight trials which included a total of 547 people. Five of the studies compared pentoxifylline and compression with placebo and compression, and three compared pentoxifylline alone with placebo. Pentoxifylline was around 50% more effective than placebo in complete healing or substantial improvement of venous leg ulcers. Pentoxifylline with compression was around 30% more effective than placebo and compression in complete healing.

Andrew Jull comments: Our results suggest that pentoxifylline gives additional benefit to the standard treatment for venous leg ulcers. It could be especially useful for patients with slow-to-heal ulcers and could be considered for patients who cannot be effectively treated with compression bandages. (Quote by e-mail; does not appear in published paper).


Contact: Richard Lane

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