Let’s finish our discussion on the different types of debridement.
Mechanical debridement is another method to remove non-viable tissue. This is accomplished by applying wet to dry dressings. Normal gauze is soaked in some type of antibacterial solution and packed into the wound. Solutions may be simple saline, Dakin’s (a diluted version of bleach), or other antibacterial solutions. This wet gauze once packed into the wound is covered by dry gauze then wrapped. This dressing is changed every day. As the packed gauze is removed, dead tissue is removed with it. This is a very inexpensive way to keep a wound clean, ward off infection and allows for evaluation every day during dressing change. This dressing may be used prior to application of a Negative Pressure Wound VAC. However, dressing changes may be a very painful as they rip superficial tissue off.
Autolysis is another option for debridement. Autolysis means to let the body digest or get rid of bad tissue by its own means. The body produces digestive enzymes called MMP’s. MMP’s at the wound’s surface liquefy the dead tissue. In order to allow the MMP’s to work, an occlusive dressing is placed over the wound. Occlusive dressings are not permeable to air and they keep the wound isolated from the outside environment. Occlusive dressings are relatively controversial. Some feel that occluding a wound keeps fluid and possibly unknown pus in a wound. However, studies show occluding a wound keeps its pH low, which inhibits bacterial growth and promotes oxygen unloading from red blood cells. Autolytic debridement is a more advanced way to debride a wound and requires frequent evaluation and inspection.
All in all, each method of debridement has its place in wound therapy. Different physicians prefer different dressings depending on their experience and training. If you are currently working to heal a wound, work with your doctor to know which type of debridement is best for your situation.