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Surgical and Nonsurgical Treatment of Decubitus Ulcer
- Decubitus ulcers, though easily preventable and treatable if found early, can become fatal
- These potentially dangerous lesions are also known as pressure ulcers, but are more commonly known as bedsores
- Decubitus ulcer treatment depends on the condition of the sores. Surgery is often the best course of action
People who are not capable of being active, such as patients in nursing homes or recovering from surgeries, are the ones most likely to suffer from a decubitus ulcer, also known as a bedsore or pressure ulcer. Although these skin ulcers may not seem much of a health concern, they can be quite serious and often require surgical treatment.
Decubitus Ulcer Causes
When people are in one position for a long period of time, the pressure from their bodies can be too much for the capillaries in the skin. This causes discomfort that would make healthy and mobile individuals move to reduce that discomfort. For people who do not have this luxury, the continued pressure ends up causing these pressure sores.
Contributing factors to the development of the sores can include a lack of proper nutrition and other chronic conditions, such as diabetes or poor circulation, which might make the sores harder to heal on their own because of reduced blood flow to the area. People with fragile skin are also more vulnerable which is why the elderly run such a high risk of developing them.
Treatment of Pressure Ulcers
The treatment choices for a decubitus ulcer can include both nonsurgical and surgical approaches depending on the severity of the ulcer and the development of complications. When such an ulcer is first discovered, care should be taken to reduce the pressure on that spot. Pillows or cushions, for example, can be used to elevate that part of the body. You should also try to reduce friction with the use of baby powder. The friction can actually open the ulcer and make it more vulnerable to an infection.
If the ulcer is open, you’ll need to keep it very clean so bacteria does not get into the wound and cause greater health problems. Rinsing the ulcer thoroughly with salt water is usually good for cleaning and for removing any dead skin that builds up around the area. When not being cleaned, the ulcer should be covered with gauze. Your physician will specify what type of cause, how frequently to rinse the ulcer, and what other steps to take to promote healing.
For some patients, surgery is the best course of action. Part of the reason is that the skin around the ulcer dies and makes a good area for bacteria to grow which is not healthy, especially in older patients whose immune systems are not functioning as well. Additionally, 75% of all decubitus ulcers form on the buttocks and the majority of other sores form on the lower extremities. Because patients who have mobility problems sometimes urinate or defecate on themselves, this can actually increase the risk of serious infection.
Surgery can take a couple of different forms. Sometimes only the dead skin around the ulcer is removed. Other times the ulcer itself is removed or is reconstructed to prevent further health problems. These choices are determined on the health of the patient, the location of the sore, and the likelihood of further problems.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Skin Disorders15 Jan 2009|