Reconstruction of complex injuries of the extremities with full-thickness wounds is a challenging but important task. If primary closure is not feasible, more complex procedures are required, such as split-thickness skin graft or flap surgery. Recently, several studies have shown good results when combined with negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) and artificial dermal replacement therapy after extensive surgical debridement and NPWT administration for severe complex wounds accompanied by tendon or bone exposure. However, flap surgery remains the only treatment for wounds in which the hardware is exposed after fracture fixation. Therefore, in this study, we attempted to prove the usefulness of the combined treatment using artificial dermal substitutes (MatriDerm) and NPWT by focusing on hardware-exposed wounds, which have not been studied before.
From 2019 to 2021, we treated with our wound management procedure 14 patients with hardware-exposing wounds after internal fixation using plates, out of 48 patients with full-thickness posttraumatic skin defect. Before skin grafting, after surgical debridement and thorough washouts, MatriDerm was placed and NPWT was applied over it. This staged approach aimed at conditioning even the most complex wounds so that closure with MatriDerm-augmented skin grafting would become possible in a one-step approach.
We stratified the duration of treatment and number of replacements in NPWT according to the type of injury. Cases with open fractures required significantly longer NPWT than those with closed fractures (P = 0.01); however, there was no significant difference between the Gustilo-Anderson classification within open fractures (P > 0.05). Patients with open fractures underwent a mean of 6.6 changes while those with closed fractures underwent 2.5 (P = 0.002) until the final wound closure with MatriDerm-augmented skin grafting was performed. There was no significant difference in the treatment period based on the location and size of the wound, and there was no significant difference in the number of NPWT replacements. Skin grafting was successful in all 14 patients.
This study revealed that NPWT and artificial dermis-augmented skin grafting after combined treatment with NPWT and artificial dermis were sufficiently useful for hardware-exposed wounds, where flap surgery has been considered the only treatment to date.