Low-intensity ultrasound (Exogen™) for the treatment of fractures

01-29-2004 | Traumatology

Low-intensity ultrasound (Exogen™) is a home-based treatment for certain fractures and fracture complications. The Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) asked the Agence d'évaluation des technologies et des modes d'intervention en santé (AETMIS) to assess the efficacy and safety of this approach to fracture healing. This technology brief is an adaptation of an advice submitted to the SAAQ.

From the standpoint of safety, based on AETMIS's assessment, the available studies do not report any adverse effects associated with the use of low-intensity ultrasound. As regards efficacy, the report examines the use of the device for three different indications: the acceleration of fracture healing, the prevention of fracture nonunion, and treatment. For these three indications, the efficacy evidence is weak.

As for the acceleration of fracture healing and the prevention of fracture nonunion, the level of evidence is insufficient to recommend the use of low-intensity ultrasound. However, in the case of nonunion of tibial fractures, the prognosis is so severe that it seems reasonable to consider the use of low-intensity ultrasound after failed surgical intervention.

AETMIS therefore considers that low-intensity ultrasound might be an exceptional treatment option for a very small number of patients.

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