BOOK REVIEW: Surgical Dressings and Wound Management by Dr. Stephen Thomas Protection Status
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Reviewed by
Dr. Diane L. Krasner

Originally published in World Wide Wounds ( Used with permission.

Dr. Stephen Thomas has given a gift to the wound care community. This is a tome that every serious wound care clinician should have on his/her reference shelf.

Covering all aspects of wound care dressings, this comprehensive textbook is really a must-have for anyone involved with dressings – from healthcare providers, to manufacturers, to sales reps, to purchasing agents and insurers.

Drawing on over thirty-five years of experience in the field, Dr. Thomas was the Director of the Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory, a leading European center for testing surgical dressings and medical devices, located in Cardiff, Wales in the United Kingdom. Dr. Thomas has drawn on his numerous publications, including articles and books, to produce this definitive text.

Surgical Dressings and Wound Management is 708 pages, and is divided into 23 sections, including a Buyer’s Guide and Index. The Index is excellent and makes the book easy to navigate. The first 7 chapters review basic, foundational information on wounds and wound care including:

Chapter 1: Structure and Function of Skin
Chapter 2: Classification of Wounds
Chapter 3: Wounds: Counting the Cost
Chapter 4: Mechanisms of Wound Healing
Chapter 5: Wound Exudate
Chapter 6: The Development of Dressings
Chapter 7: Laboratory Testing of Surgical Dressings

Thomas’ introductory chapters are interspersed with insights and wisdom gleaned from his vast wound care experience. Here are two examples:

On exudate management:
Exudate management remains an art which is largely based upon some poorly understood science. Like most skills it requires practice and experience to achieve an acceptable level of competence but it should never be forgotten that the patient is the individual who is paying for the practitioner’s education (page 55).

On a definition of the ideal dressing:
The ideal dressing or dressing system provides an environment within the wound in which the objectives of the current phase of treatment may be achieved in a timely and cost effective manner without compromising either the patient’s safety or quality of life, or adversely affecting the integrity of the periwound skin or the final cosmetic appearance of the healed wound where this is relevant (page 73).

Starting with Chapter 8, each section addresses one category of dressings, such as film dressings, foam dressings, hydrocolloid dressings and so on. All major categories are covered, as well as some unusual categories such as Honey and Sugar Dressings (Chapter 15) and Maggot Therapy (Chapter 19). In the late 1990s, Dr. Thomas was responsible for introducing maggot therapy into Europe and played a significant role in getting this technique adopted into mainstream wound management. Each of the category chapters reviews the history of the development of the dressing, classifications including properties/performance parameters, clinical experience with the dressings and related research and an extensive reference list.

Given the current popularity and increased use of certain dressings and devices, readers should pay special attention to the following chapters:

Chapter 16: Silver Dressings
Chapter 17: Odor Controlling Dressings
Chapter 20: Negative Pressure Wound Therapy

Chapter 22 presents a framework for Dressing Selection based on wound characteristics. This is a new spin on the old Red-Yellow-Black model and offers clinicians an updated and more sophisticated approach for clinical practice including:

Black necrotic wounds
Yellow sloughy wounds
Red granulating wounds
Pink epithelializing wounds
Malignant wounds
Infected wounds

As Dr. Thomas so correctly states in his Preface, “The production of this book represents the culmination of a working lifetime spent testing and evaluating surgical dressings and allied materials (with a few years off for maggot production).” How generous of Dr. Thomas to share his knowledge and experience with the international wound care community by writing this tome.

Surgical Dressings and Wound Management by Stephen Thomas – Your source for essential evidence-based information about surgical dressings and wound management.

About The Author
Diane Krasner PhD, RN, CWCN, CWS, MAPWCA, FAAN is a certified wound specialist, a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, a Master of the American Professional Wound Care Association, a Wound & Skin Care Consultant, and serves on a variety of editorial and managerial boards for prestigious wound care organizations.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.

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