This systematic review and meta-analysis is focusing on the evidences related to iontophoresis used to enhance
the topical drug delivery through the skin in the treatment of inflammatory dysfunctions, acute soft tissue injuries and
pain. A literature search in the databases, MEDLINE (PubMed), Pedro, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
was conducted. The methodological quality of the obtained studies was independently rated by two reviewers. Data
were pooled from those studies in which the effect of iontophoresis treatment on pain was compared with a control or
sham (placebo) intervention. Twenty four experimental studies evaluating the effectiveness of iontophoretic treatment
were included. Based on comparable statistical outcome for pain, the results of ten studies could be pooled for metaanalysis.
Although several clinical studies claimed an advanced healing process after iontophoresis, controversy on the
healing efficacy of iontophoresis remains. The overall summary estimate of the pooled post treatment values for pain was
-0.672 [95%CI: -0.970 to -0.375] favouring iontophoresis treatment (p < 0.0001). The observed trend between studies heterogeneity
for the post treatment pain values was low to moderate (I2 = 39.9%; p = 0.092). The results of the metaanalysis
indicate quantitative evidence that iontophoresis is effective in the treatment of pain, however, the lack of solid
research design in studies on iontophoresis makes it difficult to ensure that the improvements observed can be explained
by the iontophoresis technique in se.
Keywords: Iontophoresis, physiotherapy, transdermal drug delivery, soft tissue injuries, efficacy of iontophoresis, Meta-Analysis, musculoskeletal system, anode, cathode, chemical techniques, Physical techniques, therapeutic treatment, Quality Assessment, in vitro studies, standard deviations.
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