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Negative Pressure Therapy

Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) is a therapeutic technique that applies a vacuum pump (which creates a negative pressure environment) through a special sealed dressing. The vacuum effectively draws out fluids and waste materials from the wound and increases blood flow to the area. It may also help draw wound edges together, a vital component to wound healing. In addition to the vacuum pump, NPWT devices consist of tubing for fluid and waste removal, a container to collect waste materials that are removed, and dressing material to pack and seal the wound.

NPWT devices enable the delivery of fluids, such as saline or antibiotics that irrigate the wound. It also allows for the intermittent removal of used fluid, supporting the cleaning and drainage of the wound bed. It promotes healing in acute or chronic wounds, as well as first and second degree burns. NPWT also appears to be useful for the treatment diabetic ulcers, but further research is required for other wound types.

NPWT is not to be used on all wounds and patients. Contraindications include:

  • Exposed vasculature

  • Exposed nerves

  • Exposed anastomotic site

  • Exposed organs

  • Malignancy in the wound

  • Necrotic tissue with eschar present

  • Non-enteric and unexplored fistulas

  • Untreated osteomyelitis

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