Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not pulse-dye laser therapy is an effective treatment for burn scars.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review of two randomized controlled trials and one case series study published in 1998, 2003, and 2012.

DATA SOURCES: Two randomized controlled trials and one case series study published after 1997 were obtained using Medline and PubMed

OUTCOMES MEASURED: Symptoms of pruritus, pain, and burning sensation measured for improvement by patient survey of pain scales and parent’s reports of complaints in pediatric patients with symptoms by way of pain scales and medication requests. Cosmetic appearance was measured by physician and patient evaluation, photograph of pre and post treatment burn scar evaluation by blinded non-medical evaluators, 3D topographic imaging, and the Vancouver Scar Scale.

RESULTS: Bailey et al. (2012) and Alster et al. (1998) demonstrated improvement in a majority of the subjects’ burn scar cosmetic characteristics, while Alster also showed significant improvement in burn scar pruritus. Allison et al. (2003) showed an improvement in pruritus symptoms but not significant in cosmetic appearance as compared to the control.

CONCLUSION: Evidence to support the efficacy of pulse-dye laser therapy as a treatment for the symptoms and cosmetic appearance of burn scars is inconclusive at this point in time due to the lack of a large subject population, standard of measurement, and a wide spectrum of subject age making it difficult to properly collect significant amounts of data to strongly support the efficacy of pulse-dye therapy in treating burn scars.

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