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Quantifying Bacterial Bioburden During Negative Pressure Wound Therapy: Does the Wound VAC Enhance Bacterial Clearance?

Weed, Tonja MD; Ratliff, Catherine RN, PhD; Drake, David B. MD

doi: 10.1097/01.sap.0000111861.75927.4d
Original Article

The bacterial colonization of a wound is a recognized detrimental factor in the multifactorial process of wound healing. The harmful effects on wound healing are recognized to correspond to a level of >105 colonies of bacteria per gram of tissue. Negative pressure wound therapy has become an accepted treatment modality for acute and chronic wounds with accelerated healing rates observed. It has been previously reported that this therapy enhances bacterial clearance, which may account for the wound healing effects noted. We retrospectively reviewed 25 patients’ charts undergoing Wound VAC (Vacuum Assisted Closure Device; KCI International, San Antonio, TX) therapy with serial quantitative cultures and found that there is not a consistent effect of bacterial clearance with the Wound VAC. Furthermore, bacterial colonization increased significantly with Wound VAC therapy and remained in a range of 104–106. Despite this finding, the beneficial effects of this treatment modality on wound healing were noted in most cases.

A review of 25 patients undergoing VAC treatment demonstrated increased quantitative bacterial colonization of wound exudate during use of the VAC device. The wounds nevertheless showed beneficial effects of healing during treatment.

From the Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA.

Received September 28, 2003 and accepted for publication September 29, 2003.

Reprints: David B. Drake, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Plastic Surgery, P.O. Box 800376, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA 22908

Presented at the Southeastern Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, Palm Beach, FL, June 2, 2003.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.