Wound care is one of the most exciting and rapidly growing subspecialties of medicine. The increase in knowledge and the addition of new technologies are a significant reason for this growth.
Some of the new treatment options are relatively simple while others are more complex. But all of them have played a role in decreasing the number of amputations, the length of hospital stay, and time off work as well as the costs of long term wound care. Some of the more recent developments include: new antibiotics, specialized dressings, and a variety off-loading techniques. A few of these deserve special mention.
Several antibiotics have come along in the last decade or so and have proven to be effective against some of the more virulent bacteria that often infect complicated wounds. Medications such as Zyrbaxa and Zyvox (to name but two) have not only increased our options in combating wound infections, but have also decreased the need for IV antibiotics and hospital admissions.
Specialized dressings and tissue substitutes are becoming increasingly important and play a substantial role in wound care management. These include agents that increase collagen (a necessary factor in proper wound healing) as well as other tissue requirements that give wounds the proper foundation for healing. Some of these dressings also combat infections, decrease drainage and improve the wound environment that is often necessary before more complex dressings or treatment options can be applied. Most of these bioengineered dressings are applied in the wound care center without the need for sedation or local anesthesia and involve minimal risk of rejection.
Wound VACs of various designs are another option that is finding increasing use. These devices have broad applications in the treatment of difficult wounds and in postoperative management. Wound VACs employ the use of specialized foam that is applied directly to the wound under a sealed, negative pressure covering. In short, they pull the tissue edges closer together and bring additional blood vessels into the wound while extracting excessive drainage. All of these factors are critical to successful wound healing. Wound VACs are often applied at the Wound Care Center or by a trained nurse from a Home Health Agency. VACs are often used along with some of the specialized dressings we have discussed, making them more effective. It’s a win-win.
Regardless of the options used in the treatment of your wound, off-loading is a necessary part of the plan. Braces and splints are now available that reduce the stress and pressure of various wounds which increases the chance for the granular tissue – the healing tissue that serves as a foundation for wound healing – to grow and develop. Many of these measures have been developed in recent years and include such devices as: Cam Walkers, Crow Walkers, off-loading boots and various types of pads and splints.
At Deaconess Wound Services, we incorporate all available options when managing and treating your wounds. When you meet with your Wound Care Specialist, the options will be discussed and a plan will be developed that is right for you. But no amount of knowledge or technologies can heal a wound without your help. Maintaining the proper diet, controlling your blood sugar, discontinuing smoking, and following your doctor’s advice are critical for successful outcomes. At Deaconess Wound Services we have assisted thousands of patients in healing their wounds. We stand ready to do the same thing for you.