Debridement involves the removal of necrotic tissue to promote wound healing.
During wound healing, the affected area can become overrun with necrotic – or dead – tissue. This can be harmful to the body’s ability to recover and develop new skin, so debridement may be necessary to remove that dead material. In this way, debridement is essential for preparing the wound bed to promote speedy and efficient healing.
Why is debridement important?
Debridement promotes the wound healing process in a variety of ways. Not only does dead skin inhibit the development of healthy new tissue, but it makes the affected area more susceptible to infection. It can also hide the signs of infection, as dead tissue can increase odor and exudate, making it easier for bacteria and other harmful foreign invaders to spread.
How does debridement work?
Sometimes, debridement occurs naturally on its own thanks to the body’s own ability to shed off dead tissue. However, more often, it requires a medical procedure. There are two different categories of debridement: active and autolytic. Autolytic debridement involves application of hydrocolloids and hydrogels to enhance moisture in the affected area in order to degrade it so the body will naturally deslough the dead tissue. Active debridement involves the manual removal of necrotic material, and it comes in several types of procedures, such as:
- Surgical debridement: During this operation, a clinician will completely remove the necrotic material using a scalpel and forceps, resulting in a bleeding wound bed.
- Sharp debridement: This is similar to surgical debridement, except that it involves the use of surgical scissors.
- Larval therapy: Maggots or their larvae are placed on the wound site and eat away at the dead skin,leaving the healthy tissue behind.
How do I know when debridement is necessary?
Not all wounds are well suited for debridement. According to Nursing Times, acute wounds generally do not require removal of dead tissue, whereas chronic wounds such as leg or pressure ulcers are more likely to need necrotic material removed manually. However, it takes a comprehensive assessment by a qualified clinician to determine if you require this procedure to facilitate wound healing. Factors such as the patient’s general health condition, size and location of the wound, possibility of wound infection and presence of exudate also come into play.