Wound healing is determined by the general health of your patient, so a comprehensive assessment of your patient is crucial when planning and evaluating treatment.
1. Fogh et al. Wound Repair and Regeneration 2012;20: 815-821
2. Gottrup et al. Wound Repair and Regeneration 2008;6:615-25
3. Palao I Domenech et al. Journal of Wound Care 2008;17(8):342-48
Venous leg ulcers are caused either by dysfunction of the venous valves or an inadequate calf muscle pump. In both cases, blood isn’t sufficiently returned to the heart. This leads to higher venous pressure, which can cause edema. And an increased fluid level between cells can result in cell death, leading to ulcers. This is why compression therapy is an essential part of treating venous leg ulcers.
Venous leg ulcers are often located in the gaiter area of the leg and characterized by:
Venous leg ulcers are often painful, especially during daytime. Elevation of the leg can relieve some of the pain.
Arterial leg ulcers are caused by insufficient blood supply to the leg or feet due to arteriosclerosis. The condition reduces the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the cells, resulting in tissue death and, eventually, ulcers.
Patients with arterial ulcers should not be treated with compression therapy, but will often need vascular surgery.
Arterial ulcers are often located in the gaiter area and on the feet, and are characterized by:
Arterial ulcers can be very painful, especially at rest.
Mixed venous and arterial leg ulcers are ulcers caused by both venous and arterial disease. The majority of patients diagnosed with mixed venous ulcers have ulcers of venous origin and develop arterial insufficiency over time.
Venous leg ulcers should normally be treated with graduated compression therapy. However, not all patients can tolerate full compression. Mixed etiology ulcers are likely to require a reduced level of compression. Arterial leg ulcers should not be treated with compression therapy.
Wound dressings for leg ulcers should offer superior absorption and exudate management properties that enable them to absorb and retain exudate under compression bandages (venous leg ulcers). Suitable dressings include Biatain Silicone, Biatain Non-Adhesive.
A silver-releasing dressing, such as Biatain Ag or Biatain Silicone Ag, can help prevent or resolve wound infection.
1. Lavery et al. Diabetes Care 2006;29(6):1288–93 2
Up to 15% of diabetics are likely to develop a foot ulcer at some stage in their lives. Diabetic ulcers have a considerable negative impact on patients’ lives, and are highly susceptible to infection that all too often leads to amputation. This makes infection control of paramount importance in diabetic foot ulcer management.
Successfully managing a diabetic foot ulcer requires a comprehensive understanding of the wound: its cause, progression, risk, and treatment.
The main causes of diabetic foot ulcers are:
Neuropathy is the most common diabetic foot condition and is caused by damaged nerves in the lower extremity. The condition is permanent and can lead to loss of sensation, which increases the risk of accidental injuries, and painful feet. Treatment involves attention to feet, self-care and custom-made footwear.
A very serious condition, ischemia, is the main reason for amputations. Ischemia is caused by impaired circulation, which can be due to arteriosclerosis or occlusion of tissue. Impaired circulation causes reduced pulse – the foot is cold and blue – and this leads to tissue death and the eventual development of an ulcer. Your patient may need vascular surgery.
Diabetes can change the body’s ability to combat infection. Not only are the feet more prone to infection, it’s also harder to get rid of an infection once it’s there. So it’s crucial that you assess the patient regularly to prevent and react quickly to infections.
1. Brem and Lyder. The American Journal of Surgery 2004;188:9S–17S
4. Gottrup et al. Wound Repair and Regeneration 2008;6:615-25
5. Palao I Domenech et al. Journal of Wound Care 2008;17(8):342-48
6. Fogh et al. Wound Repair and Regeneration 2012;20: 815-821
A pressure ulcer (decubitus ulcer) is a localized injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue, usually over a bony prominence. This type of ulcer is the result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear (2). The pressure prevents the blood from circulating properly, and causes cell death, tissue necrosis and the development of ulcers. Wheelchair users or people confined to a bed (for example, after surgery or an injury) are especially at risk.
Pressure ulcers are a major cause of morbidity and mortality, especially for people with impaired sensation, prolonged immobility, or advanced age. The most common places for pressure ulcers are over a bony prominence, such as elbows, heels, hips, ankles, shoulders, the back, and the back of the head.
Pressure ulcers are classified according to the degree of tissue damage observed. In 2009 the EPUAP-NPUAP advisory panel agreed upon four levels of injury (3):
Buttocks, Stage I, NPUAP copyright & used with permission.
Intact skin with nonblanchable erythema of a localized area, usually over a bony prominence. Discoloration of the skin, warmth, edema, hardness or pain may also be present. Darkly pigmented skin may not have visible blanching.
Buttocks, Stage II, NPUAP copyright & used with permission.
Partial thickness loss of dermis presenting as a shallow open ulcer with a red-pink wound bed, without slough. May also present as an intact or open/ruptured serum-filled or serosanguinous filled blister.
Ischium, Stage III, NPUAP copyright & used with permission.
Full thickness tissue loss. Subcutaneous fat may be visible, but no bone, tendon or muscle is exposed. Some slough may be present. May include undermining and tunneling.
Sacral Coccyx, Stage IV, NPUAP copyright & used with permission.
Full thickness tissue loss with exposed bone, tendon or muscle. Slough or eschar may be present. Often include undermining and tunneling.
Full thickness skin or tissue loss in which actual depth of the ulcer is completely obscured by slough (yellow, tan, gray, green or brown) and/or eschar (tan, brown or black) in the wound bed.
Suitable wound dressings for pressure ulcers are foam or alginate dressings with superior absorption and exudate management properties, such as Biatain Silicone or Biatain Adhesive foam dressing or Biatain Alginate dressing. A silver-releasing dressing such as Biatain Ag can help prevent or resolve wound infection.
1. Enoch and Price 2004. (Pathophysiology Of Healing)
2.Winter. Nature 1962;193:293
3. Winter. Journal of Tissue Viability 2006;16(2):20-23
An acute wound is an injury that causes a break in the skin and sometimes the tissue. Acute wounds are classified into two principal types:
Foreign objects should be removed from the wound and necrotic tissue debrided, as it can function as a base for infection and delay wound healing. Wound cleansing with Sea-Clens Wound Cleanser, may be appropriate.
Exudate production is part of the natural wound healing process (1), but the exudate needs to be managed appropriately. Exudate levels are often high during the inflammatory phase of wound healing, and leakage of exudate under the dressing can damage the surrounding skin. Wound exudate must be absorbed and managed by a dressing with moist wound healing properties. This supports the healing process and reduces scar formation. (2-3)
With appropriate care, smaller acute wounds will normally close within days or weeks depending on the size, depth and position of the wound.
Suitable dressings for acute wounds are dressings with superior absorption and exudate management properties that support a moist wound healing environment. These include Biatain Silicone, Biatain Adhesive or Comfeel. Where infection is present, Biatain Silicone Ag and Biatain Ag are appropriate choices.
If a person has a condition affecting the circulation system and/or immune response, normal wound healing processes may be impaired, and the wound may become chronic. Chronic wounds are often defined by the underlying condition that prevents wound healing, such as venous leg ulcers, arterial leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers or pressure ulcers.
Exudate leaked from ulcers can cause maceration, a softening or sogginess and breakdown of the skin that results from on-going contact with excessive moisture. Maceration can lead to skin breakdown, causing the wound to grow or creating satellite ulcers. Macerated tissue is white in color.
Erythema is an abnormal redness of the skin caused by dilation of blood vessels. Redness of the periwound skin may be a sign of inflammation or wound infection.
As we grow older, the texture of our skin changes and our skin becomes thinner, weaker and less protective. If a wound is surrounded by fragile skin, dressings are more likely to cause skin irritation. You must examine the skin carefully before deciding to use either an adhesive or a non-adhesive dressing.
The Biatain dressing range offers dressings with superior absorption and exudate management properties for all types of skin conditions.
If a wound is surrounded by fragile skin, a dressing with silicone adhesive such as Biatain Silicone is an excellent alternative, as it can be used on both fragile and healthy skin.
Normal, healthy skin has a smooth and resilient structure. With proper wound treatment and use of dressings with superior absorption and exudate management, the skin surrounding a wound may be perfectly healthy and suitable for adhesive dressings such as Biatain Adhesive.
If the skin is very fragile, consider using a non-adhesive dressing such as Biatain Non-adhesive or Biatain Alginate.
1. White RJ and Cutting KF. British Journal of Nursing 2003;12(20):1186-1201
2. Adderly UJ. Wound Care, March 2010:15-20
3. Colwell JC et al. Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing 2011;38(5):541-53
4. Enoch B and Harding K. Wounds: A Compendium of Clinical Research and Practice 2003;15(7):213-29
5. Andersen et al. Ostomy/Wound Management 2002;(48)8:34-41
7. White R and Cutting KF. worldwidewounds.com/2006/september/White/Modern-Exudate-Mgt.html
8. Romanelli et al. Exudate management made easy. Wounds International 2010;1(2).
In the inflammatory phase of wound healing, exudate levels are usually high. Non-healing, or chronic, wounds are often stuck in the inflammatory phase and may produce large amounts of exudate. Increased exudate levels can be a symptom of infection and increased edema.
Wound exudate is a fluid composed of plasma, blood cells and platelets. Most of the wound exudate filters from the blood and/or lymph system into the wound area, but red blood cells and platelets leak from injured capillaries. Composition and viscosity varies, from thin and clear plasma fluid to thick yellow secretion containing high concentrations of white blood cells and bacteria.
If wound exudate is not properly controlled, it can leak from the dressing and result in the periwound skin being exposed to the exudate (1). This causes over-hydration maceration of the skin and can ultimately delay healing (2,3).
Maceration is a softening or sogginess and breakdown of the skin caused by on-going contact with excessive moisture. Macerated tissue looks white and maceration can cause an ulcer to grow or create satellite ulcers.
It is therefore very important that excess exudate is removed from the wound by an absorbent dressing. (4)
Control of exudate, removal of unhealthy tissue by debridement and management of bacterial load are all part of good wound bed preparation. The optimal wound dressing keeps the wound moist and absorbs exudate, locking it inside the dressing to prevent maceration.
We recommend the Biatain dressing range, which provides superior absorption - of low to high exuding wounds. Biatain dressings effectively absorb and retain wound exudate, ensuring a moisture balance that is optimal for healing of exuding wounds.(7,8)
1. Jørgensen et al. International Wound Journal 2005;2(1):64-73
2. Münter et al. Journal of Wound Care 2006;15(5):199-206
3. Reitzel & Marburger. EWMA 2009
4. Ip et al. Antimicrobial activities of silver dressings: an in vitro comparison. Journal of Medical Microbiology 2006;(55):59-63.
5. Basterzi et al. In-vitro comparison of antimicrobial efficacy of various wound dressings. Wounds 2010; July.
6. Data on file (Independent laboratory testing performed by Wickham Laboratories).
Wounds that are not healing normally may have a bacterial imbalance resulting in local infection of the wound.
Likely signs of wound infection are one or more of the following:
Additional clinical symptoms may arise if the infection spreads to the healthy tissue surrounding the wound. Depending on the type of bacteria, the wound exudate may become more puss-like, and the peri-wound skin may be tender, red and painful. The patient may also have a fever.
Please remember that diabetic foot ulcers do not always present with the classical signs of local infection.
If a wound is healing normally, a foam dressing with superior absorption such as Biatain or Biatain Silicone is ideal. If the wound is infected or there is risk of wound infection, we recommend silver dressings such as Biatain Ag, Biatain Silicone Ag. These provide superior absorption for infected wounds (1-7). If the infection is spreading beyond the wound, the silver dressing must be combined with systemic antibiotic treatment at the discretion of a physician.
See how treatment of a heavily infected ulcer with Biatain® Ag Non-Adhesive foam dressing and Biatain Alginate® Ag prevented amputation of a foot.
This patient suffered from heart failure, coronary heart disease, arterial hypertension and venous insufficiency in both lower limbs, as well as Alzheimer’s.
For four months, she had a very deep diabetic foot ulcer on the right foot with erythema, oedema, crepitation and heat in the surrounding tissues. She was referred to the A&E department and after examination by Vascular Surgery, her family was informed that the immediate treatment would involved supracondylar amputation since she was suffering from a grade 4–5 diabetic foot based on the Wagner scale.
The family was opposed to this treatment, and the patient was returned to her home for monitoring by her family doctor and out-patient care and dressing by home nursing. Biatain Alginate Ag and Biatain Ag were used in combination with debridement and oral antibiotics.
This picture shows the ulcer at inclusion:
This picture shows the ulcer after five weeks of treatment with first Biatain Alginate Ag and then Biatain Ag Non-Adhesive:
Here we see the ulcer after four months’ treatment:
The ulcer was closed after 10 months’ treatment:
The objective set was to prevent amputation of the foot, ensure the well being and comfort of the patient and of the family. The method used began to bear fruit already seven days after the treatment started, with visible changes in the development of the wound. The wound closed ten months after the treatment was started.
Tips for prevention, assessment and treatment of diabetic foot ulcers are available in: Diabetic foot ulcers – prevention and treatment: A Coloplast quick guide.
The patient was an 88-year-old woman with a highly exuding Stage III sacral pressure injury. The ulcer had persisted for two months and had previously been treated with standard moist wound healing products.
The ulcer had several signs of local infection, a significant odour, and was heavily exuding. A small undermining was present at the top of the ulcer and there was approximately 50% unhealthy necrotic tissue in the wound bed.
The first picture shows the infected, highly exuding pressure injury before Biatain Ag treatment:
Odour was eliminated after just one week of treatment:
This picture shows that the wound bed is clean and healing is progressing after four weeks of treatment:
During the one-month treatment period Biatain Ag effectively eliminated signs of local infection and supported healing of this heavily exuding sacral pressure injury. Elimination of odour and a significant increase in healthy granulation tissue was observed already after one week.
The academy members include practicing dermatologists who are committed to excellence in patient care, medical and public education, research, professionalism and member services support . Learn more about this academy at www.aad.org.
APIC is a professional association dedicated to improving health and patient safety by reducing risks of infection and other adverse outcomes. Learn more about this association at www.apic.org.
AAWC is a non-profit association for anyone involved in wound care. Join in to learn more about wound care at www.aawconline.org.
The aim of the DFSG is to promote improvements in diabetic foot care. Read more about this group at www.dfsg.org.
EPUAP works to lead and support all European countries in the efforts to prevent and treat pressure ulcers. You can learn more about their activities at www.epuap.org.
The EWMA deals with all clinical and scientific issues related to wound healing. Each year, EWMA hosts one of the largest international events within wound management and wound healing in Europe. Learn more about this association at www.ewma.org.
IWGDF works to improve outcomes of diabetic foot problems and strengthen the communication between healthcare professionals. Learn more about their work at www.iwgdf.org.
IASP is the world's largest multidisciplinary organization working to support the study of pain and to translate that knowledge into improved pain relief worldwide. Read more about them at www.iasp-pain.org.
NPUAP is an American organization working for the prevention and improved treatment of pressure ulcers. Read more at www.npuap.org.
A consortium of executives representing healthcare providers; medical products, pharmaceuticals and supply chain distribution companies; and service businesses united to reengineer and advance the future of the healthcare supply chain for the purpose of improving the overall healthcare marketplace in the United States. Learn more by visiting www.smisupplychain.com.
World Wide Wounds is an electronic wound management journal dedicated to providing practical guidance and information on all aspects of wound management to healthcare professionals worldwide. Read the journal at www.worldwidewounds.com.
The Wound Healing Society is a non-profit organization for clinical and basic scientists dedicated to improve the area of wound healing. Learn more about their activities at www.woundheal.org.
The WOCN Society is a professional nursing society. It supports its members by promoting educational, clinical and research opportunities to advance the practice of expert healthcare to individuals with wounds, ostomies and incontinence. Read more about this society at www.wocn.org.
WUWHS is an international organization dedicated to improving the wound care standards for patients and the healthcare performance of professionals. It also works to ensure universal access in all healthcare systems. For more information go to www.wuwhs.org