Derm

Decubitus Ulcer

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Decubitus Ulcer, Decubiti, Pressure Ulcer, Pressure Sore

  • Epidemiology
  1. Incidence: 17-35% in Nursing Home residents
  2. Prevalence: 3 Million affected in U.S.
  3. Estimated to cost $11 Billion per year in U.S.
  • Pathophysiology
  1. External localized pressure exceeds capillary blood flow to affected region
  2. Results in local tissue ischemia and injury
  • Risk Factors
  1. Key risk factors
    1. Non-ambulatory patients
    2. Decreased perfusion
    3. Local tissue edema
    4. Pre-existing Stage 1 Pressure Sore
  2. Other risk factors
    1. Underweight, malnourished or Cachexia
    2. Cognitive Impairment or Dementia
    3. Incontinence (and other causes of excessive moisture)
    4. Advanced age
  • Signs
  • Distribution (bony prominences)
  1. Common
    1. Heel
    2. Sacrum
    3. Ischial tuberosity
    4. Buttock
  2. Other
    1. Ear
    2. Occiput
    3. Shoulder
    4. Scapula
    5. Elbow
    6. Pelvis
    7. Greater Trochanter
    8. Lateral Malleolus
  • Examination
  • Ulcer Characterization
  1. Basic description
    1. Location
    2. Size (Length x Width x Depth)
  2. Stage (Types 1-4)
    1. See Decubitus Ulcer Grade
    2. Staging precautions
      1. Accurate grading requires debridement of necrosis first
      2. Use other grading schemes for staging of Diabetic Foot Ulcers and Venous Stasis Ulcers
      3. Macerated skin (moisture induced wounds) are not staged
    3. Stage 1: Nonblanchable erythema of intact skin (pink skin, not purple)
    4. Stage 2: Superficial or partial thickness skin loss (no slough or eschar)
    5. Stage 3: Full thickness skin loss with subcutaneous damage (crater to fascia)
    6. Stage 4: Full thickness skin loss with extensive deep damage to muscle, bone, tendon
  3. Additional findings
    1. Sinus tracts
    2. Exudate
    3. Necrotic tissue
    4. Granulation tissue
    5. Discharge and signs of infection
  • Labs
  1. Wound culture
    1. Typically not indicated except to identify MRSA
    2. Levine Technique is preferred
      1. Rotate culture swab over a 1 cm patch of wound
      2. Apply enough pressure for fluid to collect in wound site for 5 seconds
      3. Reddy (2012) JAMA 307(6): 605-11 [PubMed]
  • Differential Diagnosis
  1. See Leg Ulcer Causes
  2. Stasis ulcer
    1. Venous Insufficiency
    2. Lymphedema
  3. Ischemic ulcer (Peripheral Vascular Disease)
  4. Vasculitic ulcer
  • Management
  • General Approach
  1. Weekly clinical assessment
  2. Daily observation by Caregiver
  3. Key point: Minimize moisture, friction and sheering
    1. Without this, no Pressure Sore will heal
    2. Consider modified beds or bed overlays (see Pressure Sore Positioning)
  4. Patient positioning to take pressure off wound
    1. See Pressure Sore Positioning
    2. Remove all pressure at the ulcer site
    3. Frequent repositioning (every 2 hours)
  5. Wound cleaning and debridement
    1. See Decubitus Ulcer Cleansing
    2. See Decubitus Ulcer Debridement
    3. Manage the microclimate
      1. Use a pH neutral skin cleanser
      2. Use barrier wipes and creams
    4. Avoid removing a dry, non-inflamed, non-fluctuant intact eschar at heel
      1. Provides intact barrier to further injury
  1. See Wound Dressing for complete list and selection criteria
  2. Precautions
    1. Dressings should promote moist Wound Healing (without being wet)
    2. Avoid Wet-to-Dry Dressings
      1. May slow healing and results in pain on removal
      2. Wet-to-Moist Dressing however may be used (see below)
  3. Decubitus Ulcer Grade 1 (red but intact skin)
    1. No dressing is typically needed
    2. Transparent Film Dressing (e.g. Tegaderm)
  4. Decubitus Ulcer Stage 2-4
    1. Shallow - Dry wounds
      1. Thin Hydrocolloid Dressing (e.g. Tegaderm Thin, Primacol Thin, Restore Extra Thin)
      2. Hydrogels (provide moisture to dry wounds)
      3. Transparent Film Dressing (e.g. Tegaderm)
      4. Wet-to-Moist Dressing
      5. Cover with nonadherent gauze wrap
    2. Shallow - Wet wounds
      1. Hydrocolloid Dressing (e.g. Duoderm CGF) with or without absorbent paste or powder
      2. Cover with nonadherent gauze wrap
    3. Shallow - Very Wet wounds
      1. Foam Dressing (e.g. Allevyn) - preferred
      2. Alginate Dressing
      3. Cover with nonadherent gauze wrap
    4. Deep - Dry wounds
      1. Fill wound with damp gauze or Hydrogel Dressing
      2. Cover with Hydrocolloid Dressing
      3. Cover with Transparent Film Dressing (e.g. Tegaderm) or nonadherent gauze wrap
    5. Deep - Wet wounds
      1. Foam Dressing (e.g. Allevyn)
      2. Consider filling with Alginate Dressing
      3. Cover with Transparent Film Dressing (e.g. Tegaderm)
  • Management
  • Nutrition
  1. See Nutrition in Wound Healing
  2. Correct Malnutrition and specific deficiencies
  • Management
  • Control source of pain
  1. Cover wounds
  2. Adjust support surfaces
  3. Reposition patient frequently
  4. Provide analgesia with dressing changes and debridement
  5. Control moisture
    1. Contributes to maceration and skin breakdown
    2. Airflow surface may help keep area dry
    3. Do not use Incontinence briefs (impedes airflow)
  • Management
  • Adjunctive Therapy
  1. Electrotherapy (Electrical stimulation)
    1. Direct electric, pulse current via electrodes applied to wound bed for 1 hour daily
    2. Indicated in Grade 3-4 Pressure Ulcers refractory to other care
    3. Contraindicated in cancer and Osteomyelitis
    4. Kawasaki (2014) Wound Repair Regen 22(2): 161-73 [PubMed]
  2. Insufficient evidence to support use of other adjuncts
    1. Topical and systemic agents
    2. Hyperbaric treatment
    3. Infared or ultraviolet light exposure
  • Course
  1. Anticipate Wound Healing over 2 to 4 weeks
  • Complications
  1. Osteomyelitis
    1. Suspect if non-healing ulcer after 2 to 4 weeks
    2. Presume Osteomyelitis when bone is exposed within wound site
    3. Start with plain film, but typically requires bone scan or MRI
    4. Consult infectious disease
  2. Cellulitis (Bacterial superinfection) or Sepsis
    1. Stage 2 and greater Pressure Ulcers are colonized with Bacteria
    2. Adequate cleansing and debridement prevents infection
    3. Size and depth of ulcer does not distinguish need for antibiotics
    4. Risk factors for infection
      1. Foreign bodies within ulcer
      2. Large or necrotic ulcers
      3. Repeatedly contaminated sites (e.g. stool at Sacrum)
      4. Diabetes Mellitus or immunosuppression
      5. Diminished perfusion
    5. Findings suggestive of infection
      1. Increasing pain is a a key indicator of Wound Infection
      2. Fever
      3. Leukocytosis
      4. Increased purulent or foul discharge
      5. New necrotic tissue
      6. Surrounding erythema
      7. Irregular or friable granulation tissue
    6. Wound culture is typically not indicated
      1. Consider if determining presence of MRSA
      2. See Levine culture technique described above
  • References
  1. (2015) Presc Lett 22(5): 29
  2. Vertanen (2017) Wound Care Update, Park Nicollet Conference, St Louis Park, MN (attended 9/15/2017)
  3. Habif (1996) Clinical Derm, Mosby, p. 810-13
  4. PUGP (1994) Pressure Ulcer Treatment, AHCPR 95-0653
  5. PUGP (1995) Am Fam Physician 51(5):1207-22
  6. Krasner (1995) Prevention Management Pressure Ulcers
  7. Lewis (1996) Med-Surg Nursing, Mosby, p. 199-200
  8. Lueckenotte (1996) Gerontologic Nurs., Mosby, p. 800-7
  9. Way (1991) Current Surgical, Lange, p.95-108
  10. Bello (2000) JAMA 283(6): 716-8 [PubMed]
  11. Degreef (1998) Dermatol Clin 16(2): 365-75 [PubMed]
  12. Findlay (1996) Am Fam Physician 54(5): 1519-28 [PubMed]
  13. Knapp (1999) Pediatr Clin North Am 46(6):1201-13 [PubMed]
  14. Raetz (2015) Am Fam Physician 92(10): 888-94 [PubMed]
  15. Stotts (1997) Clin Geriatr Med 13(3): 565-73 [PubMed]
  16. Qaseem (2015) Ann Intern Med 162:359-9 [PubMed]