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Vacuum-assisted closure helps to heal bedsores in patients with traumatic spinal cord injury

Many people who sustain spinal cord injury (SCI) become immobile due to full-body or partial paralysis. Individuals who remain immobile in bed or chairs are likely to develop pressure ulcers (more commonly known as bedsores), which are caused when soft tissue is compressed between a bony area and an external surface for prolonged periods of time. Although clinicians can prevent bedsores by re-positioning patients and checking their skin for ulcers, nearly half of SCI patients will develop bedsores within the first year of injury, indicating a critical need for more reliable methods to prevent and treat this skin condition.

Recently, researchers have focused their attention on vacuum-assisted closure. This system facilitates wound healing by applying negative pressure to wounds, promoting cell regrowth and tissue repair. Vacuum-assisted closure is already known to aid healing for burn wounds, skin grafts, and diabetes-related wounds, so a team of researchers was interested to know if the method would be effective for treating SCI-related bedsores. After reviewing the existing literature, they found that:

  • SCI patients who received vacuum-assisted closure were cured of their bedsores faster than patients who received traditional therapies.
  • Vacuum-assisted closure was associated with faster development of granulation tissue, the new connective tissue and small blood vessels that fill the surface of the wound and promote healing.
  • Patients who received vacuum-assisted closure had fewer in-hospital complications and required a shorter length of stay than patients who did not receive negative pressure therapy.

Vacuum-assisted closure is a promising treatment for chronic open wounds, not only among SCI patients but among individuals who suffer from bedsores as a result of diabetes, infections, and post-traumatic injuries. Further research and testing is necessary to enhance the delivery and effectiveness of vacuum-assisted closure as standard practice for wound care.

Ploumis A, Mpourazanis G, Martzivanou C, et a. The role of vacuum-assisted closure in patients with pressure ulcer and spinal cord injury: A systematic review. World Journal of Plastic Surgery. (September 2019).

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