Imagine a wound dressing that molds itself to every crevice in a wound, relieves the patient’s pain and doesn’t have to be changed for up to 30 days.
Thanks to advances in technology, the dressing is a reality for patients at Christiana Care’s Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center.
Adrienne Abner, RN, NE-BC, CWS, director of the center, got an in-depth look at the way the transforming powder dressing works at the Symposium on Advanced Wound Care, sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Wound Care and the Wound Healing Society.
“This dressing is especially helpful for patients who have limited dexterity or a living situation that makes it difficult to practice proper hygiene, because the patient never needs to touch the wound,” she says.
The barrier between the wound and the environment is created by crystals developed through nanotechnology, the science of engineering materials on an atomic or molecular scale to make microscopic devices. The crystals are applied to the wound, where they combine with the body’s natural moisture and a bit of added saline solution.
“That produces a flexible mold that feels almost like a very thin, pliable plastic,” Abner says. “The only thing that can get in or out is vapors.”
In the past year, more than 40 patients at the outpatient wound center at Christiana Care have used the dressings for such conditions as inflammatory wounds, burns and open, draining wounds. The dressing also has benefited patients with diabetes or venous and arterial disease who have wounds that have stalled the healing process.
“We have seen how this product can jump-start the healing process, as well as decrease wound pain within a matter of minutes,” Abner says.
The dressing also can be used under a cast or a compression wrap. According to the manufacturer, it can last for up to 30 days, although the wound center currently leaves the dressings in place for no longer than two weeks, and only in selected cases.
Upfront, the product costs more than a traditional gauze dressing. But because the dressing lasts longer and requires less maintenance, it saves money in the long run.
“A dressing that can stay on for a whole week is cost effective, because a visiting nurse doesn’t have to go out and change it, and the patient doesn’t have to buy supplies to maintain the dressing on their own,” Abner says.
Because the seal covers exposed nerve endings, the dressing also spares patients the physical and emotional toll of pain, as well as the cost of pain medication.
“Within minutes, we have seen patients’ pain level drop from 10 to 2,” she says.
After a year in use, Abner says the dressings have been effective in enhancing both healing and patient satisfaction. “Patients see a world of difference in quality of life,” she says.