There are certain types of wounds – such as diabetic ulcers or pressure sores – that in some cases just won't heal. While there are other treatments that can be tried first, sometimes doctors ultimately have to perform a skin graft. Given that there are drawbacks to traditional grafting techniques, however, the University of Missouri School of Medicine recently conducted a study on an existing system that's designed to address some of those shortcomings.
In a conventional graft, the top two layers of skin are taken from a donor site on the patient's body, and transplanted to the chronic wound. The time-consuming procedure must be carried out in an operating room, and afterwards the donor site can be quite painful – scarring occurs, and sometimes the site can even become a chronic wound itself.
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That's why Kinetic Concepts developed the CelluTome Epidermal Harvesting System, which was launched a few years ago.
In a procedure that takes 30 to 45 minutes in an outpatient setting, the system uses heat, slight vacuum pressure and a cutting blade to harvest just the top layer of skin from a donor site – usually on the thigh. No anesthesia is necessary, plus there is minimal pain at the donor site, which typically heals completely within a claimed two to three weeks.
Led by assistant professor of surgery Jeffrey Litt, the Missouri study involved using the CelluTome system on 13 patients with various types of chronic wounds. The researchers noted that there was indeed significantly less donor site damage and little to no pain, with eight of the patients experiencing "much faster healing of their chronic wounds" than would have otherwise been the case. There was also no recurrence of the wounds after healing, which is a complication that can sometimes occur when treating at-risk patients.
"Four of these patients fully healed in less than one month," says Litt. "Additionally, the comparatively rapid closure of the open wounds also reduced health care costs by an average of $1,153 per patient and $650 to the burn and wound program."
A paper on the study was recently published in The Cureus Journal of Medical Science.