BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Medical Policy Manual

Electrical Stimulation and Electromagnetic Therapy for the Treatment of Wounds

DESCRIPTION

Electrical stimulation (ES) and electromagnetic therapy are technologies proposed to promote wound healing by increasing or accelerating the biological activities involved in wound healing, including migration of neutrophils and macrophages, stimulation of fibroblasts, and improved blood flow.

Electrical stimulation (ES) involves the application of electrical current through electrodes applied directly to the skin in close proximity to the target wound. The types of electrical stimulation devices can be categorized into groups based on the type of current.  This includes low intensity direct current (LIDC), high voltage pulsed current (HVPC), alternating current (AC), and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).

Electromagnetic therapy is a related but distinct form of treatment that involves the application of electromagnetic fields rather than direct electrical current.

POLICY

IMPORTANT REMINDERS

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

At present no electrical stimulation or electromagnetic therapy devices have received approval from the U. S.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically for the treatment of wound healing. A number of devices have been cleared for marketing for other indications. Use of these devices for wound healing is an off-label indication.

SOURCES

American College of Physicians. (2015). Treatment of pressure ulcers: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Retrieved October 18, 2016 from http://annals.org/aim/article/2173506/treatment-pressure-ulcers-clinical-practice-guideline-from-american-college-physicians.

Association for the Advancement of Wound Care. (2010). Pressure ulcer guidelines. Retrieved November 17, 2015 from http://aawconline.org.

Association for the Advancement of Wound Care. (2015). International consolidated venous ulcer guideline (ICVUG) 2015 (update of AAWC venous ulcer guideline, 2005 and 2010). Retrieved August 25, 2017 from http://aawconline.org. 

Barnes, R., Shahin, Y., Gohil, R., & Chetter, I. (2014). Electrical stimulation vs. standard care for chronic ulcer healing: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 44 (4), 429-440. Abstract retrieved October 18, 2016 from PubMed database.

BlueCross BlueShield Association. Medical Policy Reference Manual. (1:2017). Electrostimulation and electromagnetic therapy for treating wounds (2.01.57). Retrieved August 25, 2017 from BlueWeb. (14 articles and/or guidelines reviewed)

Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS.gov. NCD for electrical stimulation and electromagnetic therapy for the treatment of wounds (270.1) Retrieved October 18, 2016 from: https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/ncd-details.aspx.

Miller, C., McGuiness, W., Wilson, S., Cooper, K., Swanson, T., Rooney, D., et al. (2017, March). Venous leg ulcer healing with electric stimulation therapy: a pilot randomised controlled trial. Journal of Wound Care, 26 (3), 88-98. Abstract retrieved August 25, 2017 from PubMed database.

ORIGINAL EFFECTIVE DATE:  4/1/2003

MOST RECENT REVIEW DATE:  10/26/2017

ID_BA

Policies included in the Medical Policy Manual are not intended to certify coverage availability. They are medical determinations about a particular technology, service, drug, etc. While a policy or technology may be medically necessary, it could be excluded in a member's benefit plan. Please check with the appropriate claims department to determine if the service in question is a covered service under a particular benefit plan. Use of the Medical Policy Manual is not intended to replace independent medical judgment for treatment of individuals. The content on this Web site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice in any way. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider if you have questions regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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