Eleven trials (n=360, sample size range 19 to 86) were included in the review. Study quality scores ranged from 1 to 9 out of 11 (mean 5.5). Only three studies used a satisfactory method of randomisation. Only one study used concealed allocation of treatment. Groups in eight studies were not comparable at baseline (or this was not stated). Six studies were deemed high quality and five low quality.
Venous ulcers (six trials): Four of five studies that compared pulsed electromagnetic energy with sham reported a statistically significant difference favouring active treatment (on a range of outcomes); three of these four studies were deemed to be of high quality.
Pressure ulcers (four trials): One high-quality study found a statistically significant difference that favoured active treatment over sham for the percentage of ulcer healed at one week, median size of ulcer at one week and median days to complete healing. Three low-quality studies concluded that pulsed electromagnetic energy was a safe treatment that accelerated healing.
Plantar ulcers (one trial): This study concluded that treatment with pulsed electromagnetic fields led to a substantially more rapid rate of healing of the ulcers than in patients who received conventional wound treatment only.