Last Updated: 2007-10-16 19:53:25 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A systematic literature review provides some evidence that wound healing may be hastened by a few of the more modern types of dressing materials. But in general, conventional saline or paraffin gauze dressings perform just as well as their newer counterparts, physicians in France report in the October issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Dr. Olivier Chosidow, from Hopital Tenon in Paris, and colleagues identified 99 relevant studies through a search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Controlled Clinical Trials Register. All but 10 were randomized, controlled trials. Based on Sackett’s criteria for providing definitive clinical evidence, none of the 93 rated studies were considered level A (best), 14 were classified as level B, and 79 as level C (worst).

In general, recently developed dressing materials, such as dextranomer and silver-coated dressings, were no better than standard dressing materials.

The exceptions were hydrocolloid and alginate dressings, which were better at healing chronic wounds and for debriding necrotic wounds, respectively. Findings from a handful of studies suggested that foam and Hydrofiber dressings may expedite the healing of acute wounds, the authors state.

However, they found no scientific evidence supporting specific dressings for hemorrhagic or malodorous wounds, fragile skin, or for prevention and treatment of infection, Dr. Chosidow and associates report.

"In fact," they say, "dressing selection by physicians is more about matching criteria such as absence of pain, ease of use, avoidance of wound trauma on dressing removal, and ability to absorb and contain exudates rather than healing properties."

While the findings indicate no advantages for most modern dressings, "our review also stresses the need for more wound care research providing level A evidence," the researchers conclude.

Arch Dermatol 2007;143:1297-1304.