What Is Wound Debridement and When Is It Necessary?
Wounds are painful and they can cause damage to your body. You may not feel pain but there is still some harm done. A wound needs to be cleaned up before it heals properly. If left untreated, a wound will become infected or worse, necrotic (dead). There are various ways to clean a wound. Some methods involve using soap and water while others require special equipment such as alcohol pads or even surgical gloves.
The first step in cleaning a wound is to remove any foreign matter from the area. This means removing anything that could potentially cause infection like dirt, blood, pus, etc… Once the foreign material is removed then you can begin the actual healing process.
There are two main steps in wound healing:
1) The wound itself heals.
This includes all the parts of the body that have been injured. These include your head, arms, legs, chest, back and so on.
2) Your body repairs these injuries and replaces them with new tissue which makes up your organs and other vital systems.
There are a wide variety of common treatments for wounds. The most common procedure is, of course, cleaning and bandaging the wound. Another common method of treatment is using stitches or surgical glue to close up a wound.
More involved treatments include stem cell injections, and skin grafts.
Unfortunately even with medical treatment, some wounds can’t be healed by modern medicine. There are many reasons for this but it ultimately boils down to the type and severity of the wound. These wounds can usually be fixed with the healing powers that your body already has.
This is a fairly common treatment for those who suffer from chronic wounds. A wound can become necrotic or infected, which prevents proper healing. This is when wound debridement becomes necessary.
This treatment involves cutting away infected or dead tissue to allow the healthy tissue to heal.
This is a fairly simple surgery that can be done in an office or medical setting. If the wound is too severe or complex then the patient may need to be admitted into a hospital to have this procedure done.
Wounds that commonly need this treatment include diabetic ulcers and pressure sores. These wounds are often found on the feet or other weight bearing joints. These wounds happen because of damage to the small blood vessels responsible for blood flow.
When these blood vessels are compromised then the tissue starts dying off.
Wound Debridement Procedure
The wound debridement process is fairly simple and straightforward.
1) The first thing a doctor will do is clean the wound with an antiseptic solution like chlorhexadine.
This helps prevent infection during the procedure.
2) Next, the doctor will use a scalpel to cut away any necrotic or dead tissue.
This is done as carefully as possible without damaging any healthy tissue.
3) After this is complete, the wound is cleaned again and then bandaged.
In most cases, wound debridement is considered a simple outpatient procedure, but some patients may have to spend one or two nights in the hospital after the surgery.
Sometimes the necrotic or dead tissue is too severe for doctors to remove. In these cases, a skin graft may be necessary.
A skin graft involves taking skin from one part of the body and placing it on the wound in order to replace lost or dead tissue. There are two main types of skin grafts:
Local Grafts: These are the most common type of skin grafts. A doctor will take a patch of skin from another area of the body (donor site) and place it on the wound.
Allografts: These are grafts that involve using tissue from a person other than the patient. They are fairly common in burn victims who need extensive replacement of skin.
Autograft: This is a skin graft that involves using tissue from the patient’s own body. This type of skin graft is most often used on hands, feet, and areas of the body with little or no hair.
After the wound has healed, a patient may experience minor scarring where the dead or necrotic tissue was removed. Most of the time this is barely noticeable, but in more serious cases it can be extensive.
In some cases, skin graphs may be necessary if there isn’t enough viable skin to heal a wound. This is often the case with burns or other wounds that cover a large surface area.
The chance of infection is fairly low when receiving this treatment, but some patients may develop an infection in the treated area. If this is the case, a doctor can prescribe antibiotics to help manage the infection.
Skin Graft Aftermath
A skin graft surgery can have fairly long lasting effects on a patient’s life. Most notable, patients may not be able to return to their job or perform other physical activities for an extended period of time. Additionally, they may experience pain, scarring, or even loss of function in the area that had the skin removed.
Skin grafts are necessary in some instances, but they are not a cure-all. If you or a loved one needs skin graft treatment, it is important to seek out a doctor that has experience in this field. Working with an experienced team can help increase the chances of a successful operation with minimal after effects.
This information is not intended to substitute for the advice or care of a physician. It is recommended that you consult with your physician if you have any questions about the treatment you receive or if you experience any unusual symptoms.
Sources & references used in this article:
Treatment of isolated type I open fractures: is emergent operative debridement necessary? by EC Yang, J Eisler – Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research …, 2003 – journals.lww.com
Enzymatic wound debridement by J Ramundo, M Gray – … of Wound Ostomy & Continence …, 2008 – cdn.journals.lww.com
Is colostomy always necessary in the treatment of open pelvic fractures? by M Pell, WJ Flynn, RW Seibel – Journal of Trauma and Acute Care …, 1998 – journals.lww.com
Wound debridement, Part 1: non-sharp techniques by KR Vowden, P Vowden – Journal of wound care, 1999 – magonlinelibrary.com
Slough and biofilm: removal of barriers to wound healing by desloughing by SL Percival, L Suleman – Journal of wound care, 2015 – magonlinelibrary.com
New techniques for wound debridement by BM Madhok, K Vowden… – International wound journal, 2013 – Wiley Online Library
Wound debridement, Part 2: sharp techniques by KR Vowden, P Vowden – Journal of wound care, 1999 – magonlinelibrary.com
Conservative sharp wound debridement: State boards of nursing positions by B Gordon – Journal of WOCN, 1996 – Elsevier
The different methods of wound debridement by J Stephen-Haynes… – British journal of community …, 2007 – magonlinelibrary.com