Atypical and Complex Wounds

Holly Hovan's picture

By Holly Hovan, MSN, GERO-BC, APRN, CWOCN-AP

Refractory wounds comprise a significant worldwide health problem, affecting 5 to 7 million people per year in the United States alone. Wounds that fail to heal not only impact quality of life but also impose a significant physical, psychosocial, and financial burden. Additionally, individuals with refractory wounds often experience significant morbidity and sometimes mortality. Wound infections and amputations are common in this population, and chronic conditions often exist as well.

WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

The outer layer of the skin, the epidermis, is the body's physical barrier to the environment. This barrier is compromised when moisture or trauma damages the epidermis. Frequently, moisture or adhesives can damage the skin and cause painful injuries. The damaged area is then more susceptible to infection and delayed healing.

Overexposure to moisture can compromise the skin's integrity by disrupting the delicate molecular arrangement of intercellular lipids in the stratum corneum and the intercellular connections between epidermal cells or corneocytes. The term moisture-associated skin damage (MASD) encompasses a spectrum of injuries characterized by denudation (inflammation and erosion) of the epidermis resulting from prolonged exposure to various sources of moisture or irritants such as wound exudate, perspiration, urine, stool, or ostomy effluent.

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Approximately 2 million people in the United States are living with limb loss, and this figure is expected to double by 2050. Lower-limb amputation accounts for the vast majority of all amputations, and diabetes—specifically, diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs)—is the leading cause of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations in the US. Although already high, the rate of amputation is increasing.

Cathy Wogamon's picture

By Cathy Wogamon, DNP, MSN, FNP-BC, CWON, CFCN

Many questions arise and confusion develops when wound care providers mention Kennedy terminal ulcers (KTUs). Because these wounds are not frequently seen, and because they develop rapidly and observation ends abruptly with the death of the patient, wound care providers may have never observed a KTU, even in a long career in wound care. Although the literature reveals that there is a lack of knowledge regarding the exact cause of a KTU, let’s look at the facts currently known from published resources.

Ryan Cummings's picture

By Ryan Cummings, FNP, CWS

Although the impact of depression on all aspects of health and healing is well known and has been researched in progressively greater detail over the last decade, the role depression plays in prolonging healing time in chronic wounds is still rarely addressed fully. Empirically, every wound care provider has witnessed depression in patients with chronic non-healing ulcerations, although rarely is this directly addressed in wound care training or in algorithmic treatment plans. Ongoing pain, odor, body image compromise, and lack of faith in one’s own ability to heal are only some of the issues that wound care patients are often forced to address, and we owe it to our patients to be prepared to both discuss and validate their experiences during their time in our care.

Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine's picture

By Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine Journal Review Club

The challenges of treating lower extremity wounds for podiatrists can feel more often like a marathon than a sprint. Complex and chronic wounds can add further stress on the patient and physician alike and make this marathon feel entirely uphill. In suspiciously slow-healing chronic wounds, narrowing down the specific diagnosis, the presence of a neoplasm, and/or the bacterial load analysis can drastically alter the treatment options. A punch biopsy procedure is a useful and informative diagnostic technique that can be used to address all of the previously listed concerns and further focus the treatment of such challenging wounds. Although the punch biopsy seems as though it should be a standard diagnostic tool, many providers are hesitant to use it because it is an invasive procedure. Given that the patient’s safety is always of the upmost importance in creating a treatment plan, a multicenter clinical trial was designed to observe the incidence of complications associated with performing punch biopsy procedures in chronic open wounds.

WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Chronic and complex wounds of the lower extremity frequently recur. It is difficult to determine the precise recurrence rate across patients with different lower extremity wound types, including diabetic foot ulcers, arterial ulcers, pressure injuries, and venous ulcers. However, we know that recurrence rates are high; nearly 40% of patients with an ulcer will develop a recurrence within one year of healing. This percentage is 60% at three years after healing and 65% at the five-year mark.

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Growth factors and cytokines are secreted by the cells and are essential to the complex wound healing and tissue regeneration process. This process involves the interplay of growth factors with chemokines, cytokines, and other signaling molecules. Although there have been numerous advances that have increased our understanding of wound healing, the exact tissue regeneration mechanisms following an injury have yet to be determined.

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Angiogenesis: The complex process in which the growth of normal, stable, and functional vessels is critically dependent on the coordinated interplay in space and time of different cell types and growth factors. This process involves the forming of new blood vessels from preexisting vessels by invading the wound clot to organize in a microvascular network throughout granulation tissue.

Autologous cell therapy: A therapeutic intervention that uses an individual’s cells, which are cultured and expanded outside of the body and reintroduced into the donor as a bioengineered skin substitute to aid in wound closure.

Immunomodulation: Therapeutic interventions aimed at modifying the immune response. Healing in chronic and complex wounds can be enhanced with immunomodulating agents.

Cathy Wogamon's picture
Pilonidal Cyst

By Cathy Wogamon, DNP, MSN, FNP-BC, CWON, CFCN

A pilonidal cyst is a pocket located at the top of the cleft of the buttocks that usually results from an embedded or stiff hair. This area may remain dormant for years and cause no major issues; however, often the embedded or stiff hair may cause the cyst to become inflamed and infected, resulting in an abscess that requires an incision to drain the infected material. These abscesses can recur, causing the patient to require surgical intervention to remove the cyst. After surgery, some patients tend not to heal well, and the result is a chronic, tracking wound in an area that is difficult to heal.