Comparison of fasciotomy wound closures using traditional dressing changes and the vacuum-assisted closure device

Ann Plast Surg. 2009 Apr;62(4):407-9. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e3181881b29.


Fasciotomy wounds can be a major contributor to length of stay for patients as well as a difficult reconstructive challenge. Once the compartment pressure has been relieved and stabilized, the wound should be closed as quickly and early as possible to avoid later complications. Skin grafting can lead to morbidity and scarring at both the donor and fasciotomy site. Primary closure results in a more functional and esthetic outcome with less morbidity for the patient, but can often be difficult to achieve secondary to edema, skin retraction, and skin edge necrosis. Our objective was to examine fasciotomy wound outcomes, including time to definitive closure, comparing traditional wet-to-dry dressings, and the vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) device. This retrospective chart review included a consecutive series of patients over a 10-year period. This series included 458 patients who underwent 804 fasciotomies. Of these fasciotomy wounds, 438 received exclusively VAC. dressings, 270 received only normal saline wet-to-dry dressings, and 96 were treated with a combination of both. Of the sample, 408 patients were treated with exclusively VAC therapy or wet-to-dry dressings and 50 patients were treated with a combination of both. In comparing all wounds, there was a statistically significant higher rate of primary closure using the VAC versus traditional wet-to-dry dressings (P < 0.05 for lower extremities and P < 0.03 for upper extremities). The time to primary closure of wounds was shorter in the VAC. group in comparison with the non-VAC group. This study has shown that the use of the VAC for fasciotomy wound closure results in a higher rate of primary closure versus traditional wet-to-dry dressings. In addition, the time to primary closure of wounds or time to skin grafting is shorter when the VAC was employed. The VAC used in the described settings decreases hospitalization time, allows for earlier rehabilitation, and ultimately leads to increased patient satisfaction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bandages
  • Compartment Syndromes / surgery*
  • Extremities
  • Fasciotomy*
  • Humans
  • Negative-Pressure Wound Therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery*