Background: Phenytoin (PH) is indicated primarily for the control of grand mal and psychomotor seizures. However, topical PH has been used for the treatment of various types of ulcers, including pressure ulcers. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the possibility of a relationship between the use of oral PH and the prevalence of pressure ulcers among bedridden institutionalized elderly patients. Methods: This retrospective chart review was conducted in a state-run urban geriatric medical center in Israel and involved long-term bedridden institutionalized patients who were receiving chronic antiepileptic medication during the 7-year period between January 1996 and December 2003. The prevalence of pressure ulcers in patients who received treatment with PH alone or in combination with other antiepileptic drugs was compared with that in patients who received antiepileptic agents other than PH. Results: The study analyzed data from the medical charts of 153 patients, 72 of whom received PH alone or in combination with other antiepileptic drugs, and 81 of whom received antiepileptic agents other than PH. Patients' mean (SD) age was 78.5 (7.2) years; 106 (69.3%) were women. All patients were totally dependent with respect to activities of daily living (mean Katz score, 2.0 [2.0]) and had severe cognitive decline (mean Mini-Mental State Examination score, 3.5 [3.3]). Pressure ulcers occurred in 9.7% of PH recipients and 27.2% of non-PH recipients (P = 0.006; χ2 = 7.55). In PH recipients, 85.7% of pressure ulcers were of mild to moderate severity (stage I or II), compared with 59.1% of ulcers in non-PH recipients; the difference between groups was not statistically significant. Four (18.2%) non-PH recipients and no PH recipients had stage IV pressure ulcers. In the PH group, 71.4% of patients had a pressure ulcer in only 1 anatomic location, compared with 22.7% of the non-PH group (P = 0.023; χ2 = 5.13); 28.6% of PH recipients and 63.6% of non-PH recipients had pressure ulcers in 2 or 3 anatomic locations; and 3 (13.6%) non-PH recipients and no PH recipients had pressure ulcers in ≥4 areas. Conclusions: In the long-term bedridden institutionalized patients studied, those who received PH had lower rates of pressure ulcers, as well as less severe ulcers. PH may be a useful anticonvulsive agent in frail elderly patients, who are at risk for the development of pressure ulcers.
- Pressure ulcers