Efficacy of a Disease-Specific Nutritional Support for Pressure Ulcer Healing: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. 2017; 21(6):655-661. doi: 10.1007/s12603-016-0822-y.
Cereda, E., Neyens, J., Caccialanza, R., Rondanelli, M., & Schols, J.


Objectives: The aim of this systematic review was to summarize the evidence on the efficacy of high-calorie, high-protein nutritional formula enriched with arginine, zinc, and antioxidants (disease-specific support) in patients with pressure ulcers (PUs).

Methods: Randomized controlled trials in English published from January 1997 until October 2015 were searched for in electronic databases (EMBASE, Medline, PubMed, and CINAHL). Studies comparing a disease-specific nutritional support (oral supplements or tube feeding) to a control nutritional intervention enabling the satisfaction of energy requirements regardless of the use of high-calorie formula or placebo or no support for at least 4 weeks were considered eligible. Study outcomes were the percentage of change in PU area, complete healing and reduction in the PU area ≥40% at 8 weeks, and the percentage of change in area at 4 weeks.

Results: A total of 3 studies could be included in the meta-analysis. Compared with control interventions, formulas enriched with arginine, zinc and antioxidants resulted in significantly higher reduction in ulcer area (-15.7% [95%CI, -29.9, -1.5]; P=0.030; I2=58.6%) and a higher proportion of participants having a 40% or greater reduction in PU size (OR=1.72 [95%CI, 1.04, 2.84]; P=0.033; I2=0.0%) at 8 weeks. A nearly significant difference in complete healing at 8 weeks (OR=1.72 [95%CI, 0.86, 3.45]; P=0.127; I2=0.0%) and the percentage of change in the area at 4 weeks (-7.1% [95%CI, -17.4, 3.3]; P=0.180; I2=0.0%) was also observed.

Conclusions: This systematic review shows that the use of formulas enriched with arginine, zinc and antioxidants as oral supplements and tube feeds for at least 8 weeks are associated with improved PU healing compared with standard formulas.

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Reference work for leading, current and selected literature in the field of clinical nutrition

Publications on clinical nutrition have grown steadily in recent years and the scientific evidence has been improved by numerous observational as well as intervention studies. Various umbrella organisations, such as the Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (GESKES), the German Society for Nutritional Medicine (DGEM) or the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) publish guidelines on nutrition in various clinical situations at regular intervals. Thus, a large amount of literature is available for evidence-based nutritional medicine.

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List of abbreviations

DGEM German Society for Nutritional Medicine (German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährungsmedizin)
GESKES  Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (German Gesellschaft für klinische Ernährung der Schweiz) 
ESPEN European Society of Clinicl Nutrition and Metabolism