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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

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 (82nd percentile)

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2 news outlets
1 blog
54 X users
2 Facebook pages
4 Wikipedia pages


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522 Mendeley
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.

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 54 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 522 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 522 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 70 13%
Student > Bachelor 60 11%
Researcher 38 7%
Other 32 6%
Student > Postgraduate 31 6%
Other 97 19%
Unknown 194 37%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 132 25%
Nursing and Health Professions 82 16%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 15 3%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 12 2%
Psychology 11 2%
Other 65 12%
Unknown 205 39%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 64. 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 16 June 2024.
All research outputs
of 26,151,587 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 13,187 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 344,802 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 187 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 26,151,587 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 97th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 13,187 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 35.5. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 90% 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 344,802 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 187 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 82% of its contemporaries.