Background Bacterial colonization of chronic wounds slows healing. Cold atmospheric plasma has been shown in vitro to kill a wide range of pathogenic bacteria.
Objectives To examine the safety and efficiency of cold atmospheric argon plasma to decrease bacterial load as a new medical treatment for chronic wounds.
Patients and methods Thirty-eight chronic infected wounds in 36 patients were treated in a prospective randomized controlled phase II study with 5 min daily cold atmospheric argon plasma in addition to standard wound care. The patient acted as his or her own control. Bacterial species were detected by standard bacterial swabs and semiquantitative changes by nitrocellulose filters. Plasma setting and safety had been determined in a preceding phase I study.
Results Analysis of 291 treatments in 38 wounds found a highly significant (34%, P < 10−6) reduction of bacterial load in treated wounds, regardless of the type of bacteria. No side-effects occurred and the treatment was well tolerated.
Conclusions Cold atmospheric argon plasma treatment is potentially a safe and painless new technique to decrease bacterial load of chronic wounds and promote healing.