Advanced Techniques in the Use of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy for Closure of Complex Neonatal Abdominal Wounds

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Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) has been described for closure of complex neonatal abdominal wounds, but advanced techniques for stoma or fistula control, skin protection, and the use of high pressure therapy not as well established.


We identified neonatal patients at our institution who received NPWT for a complex abdominal wound, defined as a wound associated with a stoma or fistula with partial or complete dehiscence of the abdominal fascia or skin. We then reviewed techniques for decreasing wound contamination and protecting the newborn's skin. One patient had an especially complex wound; she was born at ∼23 weeks' gestational age (birth weight 580 g). She developed necrotizing enterocolitis and strictures, requiring multiple surgeries to relieve obstruction, ultimately resulting in an end ileostomy with mucous fistula. She suffered from wound dehiscence and retraction of her surgically created stoma, resulting in a complex abdominal wound with significant damage to the surrounding skin. We used advanced NPWT techniques to heal her wound, including topical skin protectants, placement of an adhesive dressing over the skin prior to placement of negative pressure dressing, placement of a negative pressure sponge directly on the wound bed and stoma, diversion of enteric contents away from the wound using a Malecot catheter, and an increase in the negative pressure applied.


Complex neonatal abdominal wounds can be treated effectively using NPWT. The techniques we describe divert enteric contents away from the wound bed while maintaining negative pressure and protecting the surrounding skin. In addition, we used negative pressure up to −125 mm Hg and found it was well tolerated by our patients.

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