Biofilm and Infected Wounds

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Prevention and management of biofilm and infection in wounds can be supported by using antimicrobial and antibiofilm dressings. Internationally, there has been a rising prevalence of antibiotic-resistant organisms; this has resulted in increased incorporation of antimicrobial dressings in wound management. These dressings offer many advantages because they are easy to use, are readily available, have a decreased risk of resistance, and deliver sustained release of antimicrobial agents to the wound bed. This mode of action allows for a lower concentration of the agent and thereby lowers the possibility of toxicity to host cells.

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Bioburden: Bioburden is the number of microorganisms in a wound, and a high bioburden can cause delayed wound healing.

Biofilm: Biofilms are usually composed of mixed strains of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, microbes, and other cellular debris that adhere to the wound surface.

Epibole: Epibole refers to rolled or curled-under closed wound edges. These rolled edges are thickened epidermis that may be callused, dry, scaly, and/or hyperkeratotic. When epibole is present in a wound, it signals to the body that the wound has healed, even though the wound remains open. Epibole must be resolved to allow the wound to close.

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Delayed wound healing occurs in various wound types and in patients with significant comorbidities. Hard-to-heal wounds have proven to be a challenging and worldwide crisis resulting in high financial burdens.

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Biofilms are found in the majority of chronic wounds and pose a critical health threat, causing nearly 80% of refractory nosocomial infections. They also have a damaging virulence mechanism, which induces resistance to antimicrobials and evasion from the host’s immune system. Over 90% of chronic wounds contain bacteria and fungi living within a biofilm construct. Biofilms have been reported as major contributing factors to a multitude of chronic inflammatory diseases. Given the resistance of the bacteria, biofilms increase the risk of infection and cost the health care system millions of dollars annually. Clinicians should have practical knowledge of the role and impact that biofilms play in impeding chronic wounds, thus leading to risks of complications such as infection.

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Wound debridement is a critical strategy in treating hard-to-heal wounds. It is a process that expedites healing by removing necrotic tissue, non-viable tissue, and foreign material. It can also be used to manage biofilm to prevent infection. Debriding a wound exposes the healthy underlying tissue to promote healing. There are several methods of debridement. Determining the best option will depend on the health care setting as well as the characteristics of the wound being treated.

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By Luis Fernandez, M.D., KHS, KCOEG, FACS, FASAS, FCCP, FCCM, FICS

Complex wounds have plagued humankind for thousands of years, and the search for methods to combat infectious agents has been met with limited success. Although silver, iodine, and honey still hold a place in a long list of treatments employed today, in general, these and other antimicrobials have at least one thing in common: unlike pure hypochlorous acid (HOCL), none of them are native to humans (iodine is not present in humans in an antimicrobial role).

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Surgical Site Management

Surgical site management in the post-operative time frame is paramount in preventing infection and wound dehiscence. It is essential to use practical knowledge in good wound cleansing and skin care and in providing moisture balance in surgical site wound care management.

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bioburden management

Surgical site infections (SSIs) are a risk for the more than 10 million patients who undergo inpatient surgical procedures every year in the United States. Between 300,000 and 500,000 Americans develop SSIs annually. SSIs are defined as infections related to an operative procedure that occur at or near the surgical incision within 30 days of the procedure, or within 90 days if prosthetic material is implanted.

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By Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine Journal Review Club

An appropriate timeline to initiate biofilm-based wound care (BBWC) has been a topic of question since the incorporation of biofilm therapy was introduced. In hard-to-heal delayed wounds, it is largely agreed upon that biofilms are a significant barrier to healing, and that removal is essential. By definition, hard-to-heal wounds are wounds that have failed to respond to evidence-based standard of care and contain biofilm. Biofilms are polymicrobial communities residing in an extracellular matrix produced by bacteria, which is well-hydrated and resistant against antimicrobial agents and host defenses. Biofilm can form within hours, can reach maturity within 48-72 hours, and has the ability to regrow within 24-48 hours. A first critical step to BBWC is debridement, though it requires additional suppression methods, as well as considerations of a patient’s risk factors. Risk factors include peripheral vascular disease, infection, diabetes, and pressure off-loading, which encourage biofilm development by delaying wound healing. Risks and costs with early BBWC are most likely less than those associated with biofilm-related wound complications. Thus, in March 2019, a panel of nine experts met in London for an Advisory Board Meeting, where they developed solutions to barriers preventing early BBWC and methods of appropriate “wound hygiene” for all health professionals. They reconvened in the summer of 2019 to create a clinical consensus document published in the Journal of Wound Care supported by ConvaTec Limited.

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By Thomas E. Serena, MD, and Khristina Harrell, RN

With apologies to Nietzsche: "What kills you makes you dead." The slow painful death of large and expensive in-person conferences has begun. Technological evolution has selected against these lumbering dinosaurs, but, rather than a massive asteroid, the parlous event came as a microscopic virus. Lockdowns and social distancing enacted in response to COVID-19 pushed us all deeper into a virtual world, a world that will persist long after COVID resolves.