The effects of electrical stimulation on diabetic ulcers of foot and lower limb: a systematic review

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Diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) is a life-threatening condition affecting a third of diabetic patients. Many adjuvant therapies aimed at improving the healing rate (HR) and accelerating healing time are currently under investigation. Electrical stimulation (ES) is a physical-based therapy able to increase cells activity and migration into wound bed as well as inhibiting bacterial activity. The aim of this paper was to collect and analyse findings on the effects of ES used in combination with standard wound care (SWC) in the treatment of diabetic foot ulceration compared with SWC alone. A systematic review was performed to synthesise data from quantitative studies from eight databases. Article quality was assessed using the Crowe critical appraisal tool. Seven articles out of 560 publications met the inclusion criteria. A meta-analysis was not performed due to the heterogeneity of the studies and the results were narratively synthetised. Findings showed that HR appears to be higher among diabetic ulcers treated with ES; however, the reliability of these findings is affected by the small sample sizes of the studies. Furthermore, four studies are considered as moderate or high risk of bias. The evidence to suggest the systematic usage of ES in the treatment of DFUs is still insufficient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1911-1933
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Wound Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2022


  • Diabetic Foot
  • Diabetic Ulceration
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Physical Therapy
  • Systematic review


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