BACKGROUND: Pentavalent antimony is the agent recommended for treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL). Its use is problematic, because it is expensive and because of the potential for drug-associated adverse effects during a lengthy and painful treatment course.\ud \ud METHODS: We tested the efficacy of thermotherapy for the treatment of CL due to Leishmania tropica in a randomized, controlled trial in Kabul, Afghanistan. We enrolled 401 patients with a single CL lesion and administered thermotherapy using radio-frequency waves (1 treatment of ≥1 consecutive application at 50°C for 30 s) or sodium stibogluconate (SSG), administered either intralesionally (a total of 5 injections of 25 mL every 57 days, depending on lesion size) or intramuscularly (20 mg/kg daily for 21 days). \ud \ud \ud RESULTS: Cure, defined as complete reepithelialization at 100 days after treatment initiation, was observed in 75 (69.4%) of 108 patients who received thermotherapy, 70 (75.3%) of 93 patients who received intralesional SSG, and 26 (44.8%) of 58 patients who received intramuscular SSG. The OR for cure with thermotherapy was 2.80 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.455.41), compared with intramuscular SSG treatment (P = .002). No statistically significant difference was observed in the odds of cure in comparison of intralesional SSG and thermotherapy treatments. The OR for cure with intralesional SSG treatment was 3.75 (95% CI, 1.867.54), compared with intramuscular SSG treatment (P < .001). The time to cure was significantly shorter in the thermotherapy group (median, 53 days) than in the intralesional SSG or intramuscularly SSG group (median, 75 days and >100 days, respectively; P = .003). \ud \ud CONCLUSIONS: Thermotherapy is an effective, comparatively well-tolerated, and rapid treatment for CL, and it should be considered as an alternative to antimony treatment. \ud \u
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