Current Concepts In Wound Bed Preparation

Lee C. Rogers, DPM

Proper preparation of the wound bed is essential to priming the wound for effective healing. Accordingly, this author discusses key principles from the literature and shares insights from his clinical experience in employing debridement and adjunctive modalities to help facilitate better wound healing and eventual wound closure.

Wound bed preparation is a term that describes making the wound ready for closure by advanced means. If the wound is not properly prepared, even the most expensive products or devices are unlikely to produce a positive outcome. One does not usually perform wound bed preparation in a single visit. There is more of a process to prepare the wound to be closed. In addition to the wound itself, one must ensure the patient is prepared for wound closure.

   Podiatric physicians must manage infection, ensure adequate vascularity and remove external pressure from the wound.1 One can confirm the patient’s vascular status via noninvasive testing since pedal pulses alone are not a good indicator of sufficient perfusion. If there is vascular impairment, podiatrists should consider an appropriate referral for an intervention to improve circulation.

   In regard to infection, patients with diabetes do not often mount systemic responses to infection. Therefore, clinicians must rely upon local signs. Is there erythema, purulent drainage or odor present? As infection is purely a clinical diagnosis, a culture cannot determine if the wound is infected. Cultures can only help to discern which bacteria are pathogens in that infection. Uninfected wounds should not be cultured.

   One can mitigate external pressure either by surgical intervention or by using devices such as a total contact cast or removable cast walker.2

   Completing the above process and creating a good wound healing environment is considered the standard of practice in most communities. One monitors the wound over four weeks. If the wound area does not reduce by at least 50 percent in that time period, the wound is unlikely to heal in 12 weeks and one should employ advanced therapies.3 There are many advanced therapies, ranging from skin grafts and flaps to bioengineered tissues, but they all require the wound to be adequately prepared.

A Closer Look At Key Factors That Can Affect Wound Healing

Wound bed preparation consists of far more than just a debridement and, in some cases, may take weeks to accomplish. The goal is to optimize the wound in order to promote healing with advanced means and remove the barriers to healing. Let us first consider the inherent factors that are detrimental to wound healing like bacteria, senescent cells and hyperkeratotic tissue.

   Bacteria. A wound is a break in the dermal envelope. It is usually contaminated by bacteria and may even have a biofilm present. Just because a wound is colonized does not mean that it is infected. If the wound becomes critically colonized with bacteria, an infection may develop. Researchers suggest that bacterial loads between 105 and 106 per gram of tissue in the wound bed may cause infection.4

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