Wound Debridement

What is Wound Debridement?

Wound debridement is the process of removing dead tissue from wounds. The dead tissue may be black, gray, yellow, tan, or white. Foreign material may also be on the wound. It may need to be removed. Your wound care doctor will let you know if dead tissue needs to be removed from your wound. Your physician or healthcare provider will talk to you about the procedure before he begins. He will talk to you about the different ways to remove the dead tissue. He will talk to you about the benefits of removing the dead tissue. He will also talk to you about the risks.

Why Does My Wound Have to be Debrided?

  • Wounds can heal faster if dead tissue is removed. Dead tissue can trap bacteria. Bacteria may lead to wound infections. Bacteria can cause odor.
  • Wounds that have dead tissue take longer to heal. New tissue cannot grow.
  • Dead tissue can hide pockets of pus. Pockets of pus can develop into an infection.
  • Infection can prevent your wound from healing. Infection can get worse. It can cause a life-threatening illness. It can lead to an amputation if the leg is involved.
  • Removing dead tissue on a regular basis keeps it clean. It will help your wound grow new tissue. Your wound can heal faster.

What Should I Expect When Dead Tissue is Removed?

You can expect:

  • The staff to explain the procedure
  • The staff to explain the benefits
  • The staff to explain the risks
  • The staff to place you in the most comfortable position to allow access to the wound while the dead tissue is removed
  • The staff to offer to numb your wound before the dead tissue is removed
  • The doctor to stop immediately if you tell him you are uncomfortable or have pain

How Will the Dead Tissue be Removed From My Wound?

There are a few ways that dead tissue can be removed from your wound. Your doctor may use one or even more than one way to remove the dead tissue:

  1. Sharp debridement: This may be done every week. It will keep the wound clean. It will help your wound to heal faster. The dead tissue will be removed with a sharp instrument. A dressing is then applied. It is to help control bleeding. Sometimes a sharp debridement may need to be done in the operating room.
  2. Autolytic debridement: This does not cause pain. A moist wound dressing is used with your body’s ability to break down dead tissue. This may be used between visits. When it is used your doctor may not have to do aggressive sharp debridement during your visit.
  3. Enzymatic debridement: Sometimes called chemical debridement. A medication is used to break down the dead tissue in your wound. It can be used with sharp debridement.
  4. Mechanical debridement: Whirlpool, pulse lavage or wet to dry saline dressings are used to remove dead tissue. It can also hurt healthy and new tissue. This is not used much.

Wound debridement will speed up the healing process. This may cause some discomfort. It is generally tolerated well. Be sure to tell your doctor if you experience pain or discomfort when the dead tissue is being removed. He will take measures to make you more comfortable. We want you to be as comfortable as possible as we help heal your wound as fast as possible.

When Should You Call the Wound Care Center Staff?

If you have:

  • Uncontrolled pain
  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Severe burning sensation in the wound
  • Any sign of infection

Read a white paper on the Use of Modalities in Wound Care on Debridement.