A prospective, blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial of topical negative pressure use in skin grafting

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Sep 15;114(4):917-22. doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000133168.57199.e1.


Topical negative pressure has been demonstrated to improve graft take in a number of noncomparative studies. This study aimed to assess whether split-thickness skin graft take is improved qualitatively or quantitatively with topical negative pressure therapy compared with standard bolster dressings. A blinded, prospective, randomized trial was conducted of 22 adult inpatients of Liverpool Hospital between July of 2001 and July of 2002 who had wounds requiring skin grafting. After grafting, each wound half was randomized to receive either a standard bolster dressing or a topical negative pressure dressing. Skin graft assessment was performed at 2 weeks by a single observer blinded to the randomization. Two patients were lost to follow-up and were excluded from the study. There were 20 patients (12 men and eightwomen) in the study group. The median patient age was 64 years (range, 27 to 88 years), and the mean wound size was 128 cm2 (range, 35 to 450 cm2). The wound exposed subcutaneous fat in eight patients, muscle in six patients, paratenon in four patients, and deep fascia in two patients. At 2 weeks, wounds that received a topical negative pressure dressing had a greater degree of epithelialization in six cases (30 percent), the same degree of epithelialization in nine cases (45 percent), and less epithelialization in five cases (25 percent) compared with their respective control wounds. Graft quality following topical negative pressure therapy was subjectively determined to be better in 10 cases (50 percent), equivalent in seven cases (35 percent), and worse in three cases (15 percent). Although the quantitative graft take was not significant, the qualitative graft take was found to be significantly better with the use of topical negative pressure therapy (p < 0.05). Topical negative pressure significantly improved the qualitative appearance of split-thickness skin grafts as compared with standard bolster dressings.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bandages*
  • Debridement*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Graft Survival / physiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occlusive Dressings*
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Silicones*
  • Skin Transplantation*
  • Wound Healing / physiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery*


  • Silicones
  • mepitel