Terms to Know: Surgical Wounds

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Aseptic: Aseptic surgical procedures are those that aim at eliminating the risk of transmission of all harmful microorganisms. Aseptic practices can prevent the cross-contamination of pathogens.

Bioburden: The number of microorganisms within a wound is referred to as bioburden. Bioburden management is crucial in post-operative care to prevent infection.

Cellular/tissue-based products: These are products, commonly derived from cadavers or other human and other animal cells, that can aid in closing dehisced surgical wounds by providing a substitute for the skin to act as a barrier while healing.

Cross-contamination: The process of inadvertently transferring microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, from one patient to another. Cross-contamination of post-operative wounds is a high risk for surgical patients.

Evisceration: The complete dehiscence of a wound, in which the intra-abdominal organs herniate through the open wound.

Hand hygiene: Hand hygiene is a crucial element in infection control, both peri-operatively and post-operatively. Before and after treating patients, hands should be cleaned using either an alcohol-based formula or scrubbed with soap and water.

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Microbiome: The skin microbiome describes the regular flora and fauna on the human skin, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and arthropods. Although normal levels are found on intact skin, the proliferation of microbiotic organisms on a post-operative wound can lead to a surgical site infection.

Negative pressure wound therapy: The use of a sealed wound dressing attached to a gentle vacuum pump. This therapy draws fluid away from the wound and can help manage bioburden levels on a surgical wound, thus reducing the risk of developing a surgical site infection.

Nosocomial infection: An infection or condition that originates or is acquired in a hospital. Surgical site infections are considered to be nosocomial.

Pulmonary embolism: A surgical complication that occurs when a deep vein thrombus breaks away from a vein and travels to the lungs. It is a severe complication that can lead to death quickly without prompt medical intervention.

Wound irrigation: A wound cleansing strategy that involves the steady flow of solution with slight force to an open wound to remove bacteria, exudate, purulent material, and residual topical agents from previous dressings. It commonly involves saline or other topical solutions, such as hypochlorous acid, or mild soapy water applied using a syringe.

October is Surgical Wound Management Month

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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