Introduction: Split-thickness skin grafting (SSG) is a technique used extensively in the care of burn patients and is fraught with suboptimal graft take when there is a less-than-ideal graft bed and/or grafting conditions. The technique of Negative Pressure Dressing (NPD), initially used for better wound healing has been tried on skin-grafts and has shown to increase the graft take rates. However, comparative studies between the conventional dressing and vacuum assisted closure on skin grafts in burn patients are unavailable. The present study was undertaken to find out if NPD improves graft take as compared to conventional dressing in burns patients.
Materials and methods: Consecutive burn patients undergoing split-skin grafting were randomized to receive either a conventional dressing consisting of Vaseline gauze and cotton pads or to have a NPD of 80 mm Hg for four days over the freshly laid SSG. The results in terms of amount of graft take, duration of dressings for the grafted area and the cost of treatment of wound were compared between the two groups.
Results: A total of 40 split-skin grafts were put on 30 patients. The grafted wounds included acute and chronic burns wounds and surgically created raw areas during burn reconstruction. Twenty-one of them received NPD and 19 served as controls. Patient profiles and average size of the grafts were comparable between the two groups. The vacuum closure assembly was well tolerated by all patients. Final graft take at nine days in the study group ranged from 90 to 100 per cent with an average of 96.7 per cent (SD: 3.55). The control group showed a graft take ranging between 70 and 100 percent with an average graft take of 87.5 percent (SD: 8.73). Mean duration of continued dressings on the grafted area was 8 days in cases (SD: 1.48) and 11 days in controls (SD: 2.2) after surgery. Each of these differences was found to be statistically significant (p<0.001).
Conclusion: Negative pressure dressing improves graft take in burns patients and can particularly be considered when wound bed and grafting conditions seem less-than-ideal. The negative pressure can also be effectively assembled using locally available materials thus significantly reducing the cost of treatment.
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