Current Concepts in Debridement: Science and Strategies

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The establishment of a healthy wound bed through adequate debridement of infected, senescent, and/or devitalized tissue is central to the progression of normal wound healing. Although a variety of surgical and nonsurgical strategies have been proposed, none have proven completely effective in all settings. This review focuses on the principles and techniques of modern debridement practices employed in the management of complex wounds.


A comprehensive review of the PubMed/Medline and Ovid databases was performed to identify basic science and clinical studies using key words most relevant to biofilm, debridement, and wound healing. English language articles that were peer reviewed and that met the standard of evidence-based medicine were included. Level of evidence for various debridement approaches was rated utilizing the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Rating Levels of Evidence and Grading Recommendations.


The value of both operative and nonoperative debridement techniques, their indications, and limitations are described. With an emphasis placed on surgical debridement, this review highlights technical adjuncts that can be used to optimize wound bed preparation, including preoperative topical staining of the wound, as well as the use of color-guided endpoints to prevent removal of excess healthy tissue. The indications for using temporizing measures for wound control such as negative pressure wound therapy with and without installation are also discussed.


Optimal management requires a multimodal approach that centers around operative debridement and incorporates the use of adjunctive measures to facilitate the removal of infected tissue, biofilm, and/or senescent cells that impede the progression of normal wound healing.

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