Objectives The aim of this systematic review was to summarize the evidence on the efficacy of high-calorie, high-protein nutritional formula enriched with arginine, zinc, and antioxidants (disease-specific support) in patients with pressure ulcers (PUs). Methods Randomized controlled trials in English published from January 1997 until October 2015 were searched for in electronic databases (EMBASE, Medline, PubMed, and CINAHL). Studies comparing a disease-specific nutritional support (oral supplements or tube feeding) to a control nutritional intervention enabling the satisfaction of energy requirements regardless of the use of high-calorie formula or placebo or no support for at least 4 weeks were considered eligible. Study outcomes were the percentage of change in PU area, complete healing and reduction in the PU area ≥40% at 8 weeks, and the percentage of change in area at 4 weeks. Results A total of 3 studies could be included in the metaanalysis. Compared with control interventions, formulas enriched with arginine, zinc and antioxidants resulted in significantly higher reduction in ulcer area (−15.7% [95%CI, −29.9, −1.5]; P=0.030; I2=58.6%) and a higher proportion of participants having a 40% or greater reduction in PU size (OR=1.72 [95%CI, 1.04, 2.84]; P=0.033; I2=0.0%) at 8 weeks. A nearly significant difference in complete healing at 8 weeks (OR=1.72 [95%CI, 0.86, 3.45]; P=0.127; I2=0.0%) and the percentage of change in the area at 4 weeks (−7.1% [95%CI, −17.4, 3.3]; P=0.180; I2=0.0%) was also observed. Conclusion This systematic review shows that the use of formulas enriched with arginine, zinc and antioxidants as oral supplements and tube feeds for at least 8 weeks are associated with improved PU healing compared with standard formulas.
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