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Wound healing: why cold plasma is the treatment of the future


Around three to four million people in Germany have chronic open wounds. A still young technology ensures faster and complete healing. But the therapy is fighting for recognition.

AreaRead the video transcript expand here

It sounds a bit like an electric razor.

Frank Lentes has been coming to Annette Abicht's doctor's office every day for a good month to have his ulcer treated with cold plasma.

His right foot was crushed in a serious accident.

Since then, the skin at the site has been very sensitive and easily infected.

An ulcer developed, which grew larger and larger.

Question: "How does that feel?"

Frank Lentes, plasma patient »It's not particularly uncomfortable.

It burns a bit.

But other than that, it feels pretty normal.


At first, the 53-year-old could hardly stand the plasma pillow.

The inflammation was too strong.

Standard therapy with ointments and bandages had previously helped little.

But now, after a short time, improvement was noticeable and visible.

Frank Lentes, plasma patient »It looks a lot better.

It was previously very inflamed and very, I would say, contaminated and also smelled unpleasant.

It's all gone.

The settlement is gone.

And the pain around is gone.

The edge of the wound doesn't hurt as much anymore.

So everything has gotten a lot better.«

Exact data are not available.

But an estimated three to four million people in Germany - especially older people - are affected by decubitus, leg ulcers, diabetic feet, burns or other chronic open wounds.

Annette Abicht, General Practitioner » It used to be possible to heal ulcers without plasmaderm.

But these are such difficult inflammations.

Some vacancies for years.

And we have found, as I said in the application observation of our patients, that it happened quickly and that we also got things closed that were unthinkable.«

But what leads to the improved wound healing?

The answer: The plasma kills germs that inhibit healing.

Even bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

In addition, plasma promotes tissue perfusion and the growth of blood vessels.

Professor Wolfgang Viöl from the Fraunhofer Institute in Göttingen has been researching the topic for many years.

He is practically the inventor of the method.

There are now various devices from different companies that use this technology.

A white sponge with an electrode field is placed on the skin or wound.

Electric current transforms nitrogen and oxygen into shimmering bluish plasma gas.

In this laboratory test you can see the process even more clearly.

A small air-filled gap remains free.

This is where the cold plasma is created.

Wolfgang Viöl, Head of Research Fraunhofer Institute Göttingen »You know thunderstorms and there is of course a lot of energy in it, that's hot.

These thunderbolts can be made small and also made cold.

And that's the cold plasma state that we use.

The electrons in the plasma split the oxygen.

And atomic oxygen is created and it has a very disinfected effect.


Plasma treatment has been successfully tested for many years.

But why hasn't this method caught on yet?

One reason is that the statutory health insurance is not yet obliged to cover the costs of the treatment.

A clinical study is currently underway to decide whether the method will be covered by health insurance.

Monika Lelgemann, health scientist, Federal Joint Committee "If we finally came to the conclusion that the method is good, that it has a benefit that exceeds possible damage, and that we include it in the so-called standard service catalogue, then the insurance company is obliged to pay for that."

It may still take a while before a final decision is made.

According to proponents of the method, the cost of plasma treatment may even be cheaper than conventional wound care.

And there is another advantage.

Wolfgang Viöl, Head of Research at the Fraunhofer Institute in Goettingen

You can also say ecologically. A lot is happening.

We have a lot of wound material that is created as waste.

That's around 100 kilograms per year, which can also be saved, i.e. actually reducing waste.

And no pharmaceuticals, wound ointments or anything else get into the waste water.

That also has ecological advantages.«

A medical practice in Rellingen near Hamburg.

Ruth Wolgast had an open wound on her left foot for four years that just wouldn't heal.

Until the wound expert Lars Karland treated the 77-year-old with plasma.

The wound healed within two weeks.

Ruth Wolgast, plasma patient »I can walk better again.

I'm coming back into other shoes here.

I only ever had to wear open-toed shoes because they couldn't chafe because they kept breaking.

Well, now it looks different again.

Now I can finally put on nice boots again for the winter.


Plasma treatment is still rarely used in chronic wounds.

Many doctors are not even familiar with the method.

Ruth Wolgast has only had the best experiences.

She wants everyone to know about the method.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-10-03

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