Low-Intensity Ultrasound Might Speed Fracture Healing

By Mark Greener

Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound appears to reduce the time taken for fractures to heal.

Between 5 and 10 percent of fractures show either delayed healing or non-union. Initial animal studies suggested that ultrasound either delayed healing or damaged bone. However, recent studies show that low-intensity pulsed ultrasound may accelerate healing, although the mechanism is unknown. High intensity continuous wave ultrasound, in contrast, seems to hinder healing.

Against this background, researchers from the Oncidium Health Group Inc., Burlington, Ontario, and other Canadian centres performed a meta-analysis and review to quantify the effect of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound on fracture healing. Six of 138 identified studies met the authors' inclusion criteria.

Four studies suggested that low-intensity, pulsed ultrasound significantly reduced time to fracture healing. However, only three studies – involving 158 fractures in 89 men and 69 women – were suitable for pooling. These patients had scaphoid, distal radial and tibial shaft fractures. Pooled results suggested that low-intensity ultrasound significantly reduced time to fracture healing compared to controls by a mean of 64 days….

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