JOURNAL ARTICLE

Water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA) in acute and chronic wounds

Gerd Hoffmann
GMS Krankenhaushygiene Interdisziplinär 2009, 4 (2): Doc12
20204090
Water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA), as a special form of heat radiation with a high tissue penetration and a low thermal load to the skin surface, can improve the healing of acute and chronic wounds both by thermal and thermic as well as by non-thermal and non-thermic effects. wIRA increases tissue temperature (+2.7 degrees C at a tissue depth of 2 cm), tissue oxygen partial pressure (+32% at a tissue depth of 2 cm) and tissue perfusion. These three factors are decisive for a sufficient supply of tissue with energy and oxygen and consequently also for wound healing and infection defense. wIRA can considerably alleviate pain (without any exception during 230 irradiations) with substantially less need for analgesics (52-69% less in the groups with wIRA compared to the control groups). It also diminishes exudation and inflammation and can show positive immunomodulatory effects. The overall evaluation of the effect of irradiation as well as the wound healing and the cosmetic result (assessed on visual analogue scales) were markedly better in the group with wIRA compared to the control group. wIRA can advance wound healing (median reduction of wound size of 90% in severely burned children already after 9 days in the group with wIRA compared to 13 days in the control group; on average 18 versus 42 days until complete wound closure in chronic venous stasis ulcers) or improve an impaired wound healing (reaching wound closure and normalization of the thermographic image in otherwise recalcitrant chronic venous stasis ulcers) both in acute and in chronic wounds including infected wounds. After major abdominal surgery there was a trend in favor of the wIRA group to a lower rate of total wound infections (7% versus 15%) including late infections following discharge from hospital (0% versus 8%) and a trend towards a shorter postoperative hospital stay (9 versus 11 days). Even the normal wound healing process can be improved. The mentioned effects have been proven in six prospective studies, with most of the effects having an evidence level of Ia/Ib.wIRA represents a valuable therapy option and can generally be recommended for use in the treatment of acute as well as of chronic wounds.

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