Experts recommend against low intensity pulsed ultrasound for patients with fractures

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A panel of international experts says healthcare organisations should consider abandoning the treatment.

An international panel of experts has said the use of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) to speed up bone healing after fracture does not represent an efficient use of health resources and should be stopped.

The  recommendation follows a detailed analysis of the latest evidence on LIPUS, as part of the BMJ Rapid Recommendations initiative.

The panel, comprising orthopaedic surgeons, physiotherapists, clinicians and patients with experience of fractures, found, with moderate to high certainty, that LIPUS has little or no impact on time to return to work, time to full weight bearing, pain, the number of subsequent operations, or radiographic healing.

The panel unanimously recommended against LIPUS for patients with any bone fracture or osteotomy.

“We have moderate to high certainty of a lack of benefit for outcomes important to patients, and, combined with the high costs of treatment, LIPUS represents an inefficient use of limited healthcare resources,” they write.

It is unlikely that new trials will alter the evidence, they add. And they suggest that future research “should focus on other interventions that have a greater probability to speed up healing”.

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