Study Findings are a First Step in Advancing Chronic Wound Treatment Approaches

A new study published by a researcher from George Washington University concludes that patients with chronic wounds heal faster if they are not given opioids during their recovery. Writing in the journal Wound Repair and Regeneration, Victoria Shanmugam, MD, reported a strong correlation between opioid exposure and impaired healing in patients with chronic wounds, defined as wounds that have failed to heal after 3 months of care. Dr. Shanmugam, associate professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, comments "It seems that exposing patients to opioids may impact ultimate wound outcome. More work needs to be done to understand this finding and the possible mechanisms driving it."

Chronic wounds affect some 6.5 million Americans, causing pain, impaired well-being and quality of life, and higher rates of mortality. Opioid analgesics are routinely prescribed for these patients, but the impact of this treatment modality on wound outcome and healing has been poorly understood. In this study, the research team examined 450 patients from the WE-HEAL biorepository to correlate data involving opioid exposure, pain scores and total wound area. Opioid dose was found to be substantially associated with total wound surface area. The authors note that additional study will be needed to determine if a causal relationship exists. Read more about the findings here. The article abstract may be read here.

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