Negative pressure wound therapy in pediatric surgery: How and when to use

J Pediatr Surg. 2018 Apr;53(4):585-591. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2017.11.048. Epub 2017 Nov 21.


Introduction: Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) has been widely adopted to treat laparostomy, abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS) and complicated wounds associated with tissue loss. The method presents specific aspects, advantages and indications in Pediatrics. Our aim is to review the evidence available about NPWT in children.

Methods: Active search for papers about NPWT in Pediatric patients. Papers referring to orthopedic problems, wound complications after Cardiac Surgery or burns were excluded.

Results: The method shows good results to treat ACS, complicated wounds and abdominal wall malformations in neonates, including prematures. Periwound skin protection, monitoring of fluid losses and fine tuning of negative pressure levels according to age are necessary. Less pain, quicker recovery, less frequent dressing changes, possible recovery of exposed surgical hardware, granulation and shrinkage of the wound are advantages of the method over other kinds of dressing. NPWT is contraindicated over blood vessels and exposed nerves. Debridement is needed before usage over necrotic areas. Enteric fistulae are not contraindications. Complications are rare, mainly foam retention and dermatitis/skin maceration. The possibility of fistulae being caused by NPWT remains debatable.

Conclusion: NPWT is widely used in Pediatrics, including neonates and premature, but the evidence available about the method is scarce and low quality. Complications are uncommon and mostly manageable. A possible causal relationship between NPWY and enteric fistula remains unclear. Adult devices and parameters have been adapted to children's use. Extra care is needed to protect the delicate tissues of Pediatric patients. Comparative research to define differential costs, indications and advantages of the method, specific indications and limits of NWTP in Pediatrics is needed.

Type of study: Review.

Evidence level: IV.

Keywords: Abdominal compartment syndrome; Complex wound; Negative pressure wound therapy; Pediatrics; Tissue loss; VAC-therapy; Vacuum-therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Debridement / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intra-Abdominal Hypertension / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Negative-Pressure Wound Therapy / instrumentation
  • Negative-Pressure Wound Therapy / methods*
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / prevention & control
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*
  • Wound Healing*
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery*