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Wound Exudate—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Spear, Marcia DNP, ACNP-BC, CWS, CPSN

doi: 10.1097/PSN.0b013e318256d638
Departments: Wound Care Management

Exudate consists of fluid and leukocytes that move to the site of injury from the circulatory system in response to local inflammation. This inflammatory response leads to blood vessel dilatation and increased permeability, resulting in increased production of exudate. The nature and quantity of exudate depend on the nature and severity of the tissue damage. The exact amount of wound exudate and moisture to promote moist wound healing is unknown. This moisture balance is essential to promote healing and is oftentimes a major challenge to the wound care provider. This article will explore the benefits of wound fluid as well as the detrimental impact on wound healing. Assessment and management will also be briefly discussed.

Marcia Spear, DNP, ACNP-BC, CWS, CPSN, received her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She is faculty at both the School of Medicine and School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University. She has more than 20 years of experience in plastic surgery and wound care and is presently working as a nurse practitioner and certified wound specialist for the Department of Plastic Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN.

Address correspondence to Marcia Spear, DNP, ACNP-BC, CWS, CPSN, Department of Plastic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, S-2221 Medical Center North, Nashville, TN 37232 (e-mail:

Neither author has received any financial assistance in writing this article.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses