Conference Coverage

International registry of laser surgery outcomes in the works



– Researchers in the early stages of developing an international registry of outcomes in the field of laser surgery have found a lack of uniformity in outcome reporting from existing studies in the medical literature. They’ve also observed insufficient reporting of outcome definitions and under-representation of life impact domains.

“Today, laser therapy is not only an important treatment modality for cosmetic indications, but also for medical skin disorders and diseases,” lead study author Frederike Fransen said at the annual conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. “These disorders include inflammatory lesions, vascular and pigmented lesions, tumors, and scars. Although there are a lot of options for laser therapy, the evidence for most of these skin conditions is quite low, consisting mostly of case reports and case series. However, if we want more evidence-based practice, we need more practice-based evidence.”

A new effort to gain insight into safety and effectiveness of laser treatments known as the international Laser Treatment Dermatology Registry (LEAD) is a platform to address this challenge. “We envision a registry that connects expertise and experience of a large international team of laser specialists, clinicians, and researchers,” said Ms. Fransen, a PhD candidate in the department of dermatology at Amsterdam University Medical Center. “Our goal is to gain insight into safety and effectiveness of laser treatments.” The collaboration includes researchers from the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, and the team will be complemented by experts from the United States, Asia, and North Africa.

For the first phase of the endeavor, Ms. Fransen and Albert Wolkerstorfer, MD, PhD, of the University of Amsterdam worked with colleagues from the Cochrane Skin-Core Outcome Set Initiative (CS-COUSIN) to develop a consensus of outcomes to be included in the registry. This involved a literature review of 350 articles to explore the outcomes used in laser research. From these, the researchers identified 100 articles for outcome mapping: 25 randomized, controlled trials, 44 trials that were not randomized or controlled, and 31 case reports. Their review yielded 98 outcomes and 53 outcome instruments.

Ultimately, outcomes were assigned to eight domains, Ms. Fransen said: appearance, long-term effects, physician-reported physical signs, patient-reported physical signs, satisfaction, health-related quality of life, psychological functioning, and adverse events. Of these domains, the most commonly used in existing medical literature were appearance such as clinical improvement and clearance (81%), followed by adverse effects such as erythema and scarring (55%), physician-reported signs such as morphology (30%), and long-term effects such as recurrence (27%). Ms. Fransen and Dr. Wolkerstorfer observed under-representation of patient-centered outcomes, including satisfaction of appearance or treatment (29%), patient-reported physical signs such as overall state and severity of disease (12%), health-related quality of life (4%), and psychological functioning such as anxiety and depression (1%).

The analysis also revealed that different outcomes measures were used in the various studies, and inconstant definitions within scaling systems. For example, for clearance of lesions/no clearance of lesions, some studies defined excellent clearance as 75% or greater, and others defined marked clearance as 70% or greater. In addition, some studies that used percentage quintile grading as an outcome defined grade 5 as a greater than 95% improvement, while others defined grade 5 as “clear,” or a greater than 90% improvement.

The next step in developing the LEAD registry involves performing an international e-Delphi survey, a method to obtain agreement on outcomes for the registry among health care professionals and patients with different opinions and backgrounds. “The process ends when sufficient agreement is obtained,” Ms. Fransen said. “Looking at future steps, the development of this collaborative initiative with a minimum set of outcomes is essential. When establishing this registry we can achieve sufficient sample size and confirmatory cases toward stronger evidence of laser treatments for orphan diseases.”

The project was supported by the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology and by an educational grant from ASLMS.

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