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Effectiveness of Leech Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

Andreas Michalsen, MD; Stefanie Klotz, RN; Rainer Lüdtke, PhD; Susanne Moebus, PhD, MPH; Günther Spahn, MD; and Gustav J. Dobos, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From the Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Academic Teaching Hospital of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Karl and Veronica Carstens Foundation, and Institute for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.


Grant Support: By a research grant from the Karl and Veronica Carstens Foundation, Essen, Germany.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.

Requests for Single Reprints: Gustav J. Dobos, MD, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Department of Internal Medicine V, Am Deimelsberg 34 a, 45276 Essen, Germany; e-mail, gustav.dobos@uni-essen.de.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Michalsen, Spahn, and Dobos and Ms. Klotz: Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Department of Internal Medicine V, Am Deimelsberg 34 a, 45276 Essen, Germany.

Dr. Lüdtke: Karl and Veronica Carstens Foundation, Am Deimelsberg 36, 45276 Essen, Germany.

Dr. Moebus: Institute for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, Medical Faculty, University of Essen, Hufelandstrasse 55, D-45147 Essen, Germany.

Author Contributions: Conception and design: A. Michalsen, R. Lüdtke, G.J. Dobos.

Analysis and interpretation of the data: A. Michalsen, R. Lüdtke, S. Moebus, G.J. Dobos.

Drafting of the article: A. Michalsen, G. Spahn.

Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: S. Moebus, G. Spahn, G.J. Dobos.

Final approval of the article: A. Michalsen, G.J. Dobos.

Statistical expertise: R. Lüdtke.

Obtaining of funding: G.J. Dobos.

Administrative, technical, or logistic support: A. Michalsen, S. Klotz, G. Spahn.

Collection and assembly of data: S. Klotz, S. Moebus.


Ann Intern Med. 2003;139(9):724-730. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-139-9-200311040-00006
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Of 112 patients screened by telephone interview, 61 patients were invited for further assessment. After detailed examination, 51 patients fulfilled all study criteria, agreed to study participation, and underwent randomization. Twenty-four patients were assigned to leech therapy, and 27 patients were assigned to topical diclofenac treatment. One patient (receiving diclofenac) declined to return for further visits to the study center and withdrew from the study immediately at day 1. Two more patients in the diclofenac group withdrew from the study after day 7 because of persisting symptoms. One patient in each group dropped out before the last study visit (day 91) because they received unallowed co-interventions after day 28.

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Figure.
Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) pain score.P

Mean course of the WOMAC pain score in both groups in the study course (means [+SD] are based on raw [not imputed] data; values were calculated from repeated-measurement analysis of variance). Complete WOMAC patient data in the leech therapy and topical diclofenac treatment group were available for 24 and 26 patients, respectively (day 7); 24 and 24 patients, respectively (day 28); and 23 and 23 patients, respectively (day 91).

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Summary for Patients

Leeches To Treat Knee Osteoarthritis

The summary below is from the full report titled “Effectiveness of Leech Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Knee. A Randomized, Controlled Trial.” It is in the 4 November 2003 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 139, pages 724-730). The authors are A. Michalsen, S. Klotz, R. Lüdtke, S. Moebus, G. Spahn, and G.J. Dobos.

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