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Dressings and topical agents for treating venous leg ulcers

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, June 2018
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (95th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (85th percentile)

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1 blog
76 tweeters
1 Facebook page
2 Wikipedia pages


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61 Mendeley
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Dressings and topical agents for treating venous leg ulcers
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, June 2018
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd012583.pub2
Pubmed ID

Gill Norman, Maggie J Westby, Amber D Rithalia, Nikki Stubbs, Marta O Soares, Jo C Dumville


Venous leg ulcers are open skin wounds on the lower leg which can be slow to heal, and are both painful and costly. The point prevalence of open venous leg ulcers in the UK is about 3 cases per 10,000 people, and many people experience recurrent episodes of prolonged ulceration. First-line treatment for venous leg ulcers is compression therapy, but a wide range of dressings and topical treatments are also used. This diversity of treatments makes evidence-based decision-making challenging, and a clear and current overview of all the evidence is required. This review is a network meta-analysis (NMA) which assesses the probability of complete ulcer healing associated with alternative dressings and topical agents. To assess the effects of (1) dressings and (2) topical agents for healing venous leg ulcers in any care setting and to rank treatments in order of effectiveness, with assessment of uncertainty and evidence quality. In March 2017 we searched the Cochrane Wounds Specialised Register; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); Ovid MEDLINE; Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations); Ovid Embase and EBSCO CINAHL Plus. We also scanned reference lists of relevant included studies as well as reviews, meta-analyses, guidelines and health technology reports to identify additional studies. There were no restrictions with respect to language, date of publication or study setting. We updated this search in March 2018; as a result several studies are awaiting classification. We included published or unpublished randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that enrolled adults with venous leg ulcers and compared the effects of at least one of the following interventions with any other intervention in the treatment of venous leg ulcers: any dressing, or any topical agent applied directly to an open venous leg ulcer and left in situ. We excluded from this review dressings attached to external devices such as negative pressure wound therapies, skin grafts, growth factors and other biological agents, larval therapy and treatments such as laser, heat or ultrasound. Studies were required to report complete wound healing to be eligible. Two review authors independently performed study selection, 'Risk of bias' assessment and data extraction. We conducted this NMA using frequentist meta-regression methods for the efficacy outcome; the probability of complete healing. We assumed that treatment effects were similar within dressings classes (e.g. hydrocolloid, foam). We present estimates of effect with their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for individual treatments focusing on comparisons with widely used dressing classes, and we report ranking probabilities for each intervention (probability of being the best, second best, etc treatment). We assessed the certainty (quality) of the body of evidence using GRADE for each network comparison and for the network as whole. We included 78 RCTs (7014 participants) in this review. Of these, 59 studies (5156 participants, 25 different interventions) were included in the NMA; resulting in 40 direct contrasts which informed 300 mixed-treatment contrasts.The evidence for the network as a whole was of low certainty. This judgement was based on the sparsity of the network leading to imprecision and the general high risk of bias in the included studies. Sensitivity analyses also demonstrated instability in key aspects of the network and results are reported for the extended sensitivity analysis. Evidence for individual contrasts was mainly judged to be low or very low certainty.The uncertainty was perpetuated when the results were considered by ranking the treatments in terms of the probability that they were the most effective for ulcer healing, with many treatments having similar, low, probabilities of being the best treatment. The two most highly-ranked treatments both had more than 50% probability of being the best (sucralfate and silver dressings). However, the data for sucralfate was from one small study, which means that this finding should be interpreted with caution. When exploring the data for silver and sucralfate compared with widely-used dressing classes, there was some evidence that silver dressings may increase the probability of venous leg ulcer healing, compared with nonadherent dressings: RR 2.43, 95% CI 1.58 to 3.74 (moderate-certainty evidence in the context of a low-certainty network). For all other combinations of these five interventions it was unclear whether the intervention increased the probability of healing; in each case this was low- or very low-certainty evidence as a consequence of one or more of imprecision, risk of bias and inconsistency. More research is needed to determine whether particular dressings or topical agents improve the probability of healing of venous leg ulcers. However, the NMA is uninformative regarding which interventions might best be included in a large trial, largely because of the low certainty of the whole network and of individual comparisons.The results of this NMA focus exclusively on complete healing; whilst this is of key importance to people living with venous leg ulcers, clinicians may wish to take into account other patient-important outcomes and factors such as patient preference and cost.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 76 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 61 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 61 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 13 21%
Unspecified 8 13%
Student > Bachelor 8 13%
Student > Ph. D. Student 6 10%
Student > Doctoral Student 6 10%
Other 20 33%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 21 34%
Nursing and Health Professions 13 21%
Unspecified 12 20%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 3 5%
Social Sciences 3 5%
Other 9 15%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 65. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 08 April 2019.
All research outputs
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Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
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Outputs of similar age
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Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
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Altmetric has tracked 12,802,120 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 98th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 10,429 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 20.3. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 93% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 270,689 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 95% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 176 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 85% of its contemporaries.