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Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Electrical Stimulation for the Treatment of Chronic Wounds

Electrostimulation (E-stim) applied to chronic venous, arterial and pressure ulcers to accelerate healing, has been utilized as a possible therapeutic modality for several decades. Several types of E-stim for the treatment of chronic ulcers currently are in use, and the effectiveness of electrical therapy for different categories and severity of chronic ulcers remains controversial. In April 1997, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a national noncoverage policy (Coverage Issues Manual (CIM) section 35-98) for E-stim for the treatment of wounds.

Pursuant to a court order, CMS issued a program memorandum (PM) to its contractors in December 1997, precluding them from giving any effect to the April 1997, national noncoverage determination published in the CIM. This instruction was recently renewed in PM AB-00-53. Therefore, coverage for E-stim for the treatment of wounds remains at carrier discretion.

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