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Negative Pressure Wound Therapy: The Basics

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy: The Basics

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negative pressure wound therapy

Wounds with heavy exudate may need drainage tubes.

You may have heard your clinician discussing the benefits of negative pressure wound therapy. Although this process uses a wide variety of technology and is continually evolving, it is well-regarded that has been around for centuries, in various forms of wound care. If you are uneasy about the use of this therapy, read below!

What is Negative Pressure?

In a nutshell, negative pressure is when a wound receives less pressure than the surrounding tissue on the patient’s body. This is often achieved through technology that creates a partial vacuum at the wound site, assisting the wound in removing any excess exudate, which can include infectious fluids like pus, or dead tissue.

Why Is It Used?

Negative wound therapy is utilized for a variety of reasons, with the key factor being that it can help patients heal at a faster rate. Other benefits include a lower risk of having the wound become infected. According to Wounds International, negative pressure wound healing systems are often sealed, so the patient has less chance of exposure to outside pathogens like bacteria and viruses. This can also lead to fewer dressing changes, as the area will be disturbed less often throughout the wound healing process.


There are multiple varieties of negative pressure wound therapy, with the main two breakdowns being continuous and intermittent suctioning.

Continuous suctioning is used for wounds with heavy exudate for the duration of NPWT. Since wound discharge of fluids is heaviest during the first stages of the healing process, many wounds will start with this type of suctioning.

Intermittent suctioning will be used in cycles that can range in length for time on and off based on the wound’s fluid levels. Most wounds that have a stable, or steady, level of discharge can be set up on this cycle to properly maintain the right amount of moisture to optimize the healing environment for the wound drainage.


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