Biofilm and Infected Wounds

WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

The incorporation of silver into wound dressings has been a breakthrough to combat the effects of antibiotic resistance, despite silver safety concerns. Regardless of its recent popularity, silver is not a new tool in health care.

WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

As a cost-effective alternative to topical antibiotics, silver is now widely available in wound dressings. However, what does silver really do within the wound bed? Silver uses a multifaceted approach to combating infection that attacks bacteria internally.

WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Silver has become one of the most commonly used alternatives to topical antibiotics in recent years because of the growing concern over antibiotic resistance. Silver offers a multifaceted antimicrobial approach that makes it less likely for resistance to develop. With its limited and uncommon cytotoxicity, silver can be used to treat infected wounds over time and prevent further complications.

WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Before the discovery of penicillin in 1928, silver was the primary antimicrobial agent available. Now, as antibiotic resistance plagues the health care field, silver has new value for wound care. Additionally, silver has demonstrated limited cytotoxicity when used topically, thus making it a suitable alternative to antibiotics.

Emily Greenstein's picture
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Emily Greenstein, APRN, CNP, CWON, FACCWS

Wound care has evolved from treatments based on superstition to systematic, evidence-based care. The history of wound healing dates back to 2000 BCE. Various civilizations over the centuries had differing approaches to wound care.

Centuries ago, science took a back seat to superstition. Infectious diseases were seen as a sign of supernatural powers or the wrath of God. We now know that it was smallpox that led to the downfall of the Aztecs. We also know that bubonic plague was not a divine punishment, but it was caused by bacteria transmitted by fleas on rodents traveling on trading ships.

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Of all the types of chronic wounds in lower extremities, venous leg ulcers are the most common, and they account for up to 70% of lower leg ulcers. Infection is a common complication in these wounds, however, and may contribute to chronicity. Biofilm is another common complicating factor. Preventing infection, removing unhealthy tissue from the wound, providing dressings that manage exudate, and using advanced modalities can help heal these chronic wound types and prevent a recurrence.

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Wounds typically heal in four sequential but overlapping phases — hemostasis, inflammatory, proliferative and remodeling — ultimately leading to tissue regeneration. Healing sometimes stalls for various reasons, a key one being extensive inflammation, which disrupts the normal cascade of healing and leads to chronic and hard-to-heal wounds. A vicious cycle of ongoing inflammation, pain and poor quality of life often follows. Understanding how to break this cycle is essential for wound care clinicians who want to optimize healing outcomes and patient quality of life.

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Wound healing can stall for a number of reasons. Wounds that have not healed or significantly reduced in size after four to six weeks are considered chronic. They are characterized by a multitude of impeding factors including biofilm, excess matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and extracellular matrix degradation, inflammation, fibrosis, unresponsive keratinocytes and fibroblasts, and atypical growth factor signaling.

Charles Buscemi's picture

By Charles P. Buscemi, PhD, APRN, CWCN and Arturo Gonzalez, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, CWCN-AP

Urinary catheters serve several purposes, including monitoring urine output, relieving urinary retention, and facilitating diagnosis of disease in the lower urinary tract. These catheters can be inserted easily and are universally available, which usually results in their continued and indiscriminate usage. Urinary catheters can be indwelling or external-condom types. The indwelling catheter can be either a suprapubic or a urethral catheter. The external catheter provides a safe alternative to an indwelling catheter for patients having urinary incontinence (UI). It comprises a sheath surrounding the penis with a tube situated at the tip linked to a collection bag. Conversely, the condom catheter seems an attractive option for patients with UI. About 40% of condom catheter users have urinary tract infections. Moreover, 15% of condom catheter users have necrosis, ulceration, inflammation, and constriction of the penile skin. There is also an additional risk of urine leakage and condom detachment. Furthermore, the use of the external catheter requires significant nursing time. Overall, the condom catheter cannot be satisfactorily used for managing UI; nevertheless, it is useful for the non-invasive measurement of bladder pressure.