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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Clinic-epidemiological evaluation of ulcers in patients with leprosy sequelae and the effect of low level laser therapy on wound healing: a randomized clinical trial

Josafá G Barreto12 and Claudio G Salgado13*

Author Affiliations

1 Dermato-Immunology Laboratory UEPA/UFPA/Marcello Candia, Marituba, Pará, Brazil

2 University Campus of Castanhal - UFPA - Castanhal, Pará, Brazil

3 Institute of Biological Sciences - UFPA, Belém, Pará, Brazil

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:237  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-237

Published: 10 August 2010

Abstract

Background

Mycobacterium leprae is the only pathogenic bacteria able to infect peripheral nerves. Neural impairment results in a set of sensitive, motor and autonomic disturbances, with ulcers originating primarily on the hands and feet. The study objectives were to analyze the clinic-epidemiological characteristics of patients attended at one specialized dressing service from a leprosy-endemic region of the Brazilian Amazon and to evaluate the effect of low level laser therapy (LLLT) on wound healing of these patients.

Methods

Clinic-epidemiological evaluation of patients with leprosy sequelae was performed at the reference unit in sanitary dermatology of the state of Pará in Brazil. We conducted anamnesis, identification of the regions affected by the lesions and measurement of ulcer depth and surface area. After that, we performed a randomized clinical trial. Fifty-one patients with ulcers related to leprosy were evaluated, twenty-five of them were randomly assigned to a low level laser therapy group or a control group. Patients were treated 3 times per week for 12 weeks. Outcome measures were ulcer surface area, ulcer depth and the pressure ulcer scale for healing score (PUSH).

Results

Ninety-seven ulcers were identified, with a mean (SD) duration of 97.6 (111.7) months, surface area of 7.3 (11.5) cm2, and depth of 6.0 (6.2) mm. Statistical analysis of the data determined that there were no significant differences in the variables analyzed before and after treatment with low level laser therapy.

Conclusions

Ulcers in patients with leprosy remain a major source of economic and social losses, even many years after they have been cured of M. leprae infection. Our results indicate that it is necessary to develop new and more effective therapeutic tools, as low level laser therapy did not demonstrate any additional benefits to ulcer healing with the parameters used in this study.

Trial Registration

The trial was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov as NCT00860717.