Negative-pressure wound therapy (NPWT) was developed in the early 1990s and reported in 1997 by Argenta and Morykwas. Ignored at first, this technique progressively came to be considered as an outstanding advancement in reconstructive surgery. Several randomized controlled studies produced evidence for the effect of NPWT on promotion of granulation tissue formation and prevention of tissue damage and amputation. However, no important longitudinal study has yet produced clinical and economic data on the consequences of integrating NPWT into practice in multiple institutions.
This prospective, comparative longitudinal study of NPWT as a clinical-practice innovation was conducted in 1,126 patients between March 2006 and June 2009 in 30 university and nonuniversity public and private hospitals in France. NPWT was proposed in a nonrandomized fashion for various clinical indications, and the patients were divided into two groups, one using NPWT, the second using standard care. Efficacy criteria were spontaneous closure, closure after surgical coverage using skin grafts or flaps, or achievement of 40% wound area regression. The results, observed in a pragmatic but not randomized study, are suggestive of a favorable impact of NPWT in multiple clinical situations. The significance of differences between surgical patients who underwent NPWT and those who did not was unclear, as NPWT had already been adopted by most of the surgical wards.