Bedsores Diagnosis/Preparation

Physical examination , medical history, and patient and caregiver observations are the basis of diagnosis. Special attention must be paid to physical or mental problems, such as an underlying disease, incontinence, or confusion that could complicate a patient's recovery. Nutritional status and smoking history should also be noted. The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) recommends classification of bedsores in four stages of ulceration based primarily on the depth of a sore at the time of examination. This helps standardize the language and encourages effective communication of medical personnel caring for patients with bedsores. The NPUAP advises that not all bedsores follow the stages directly from I to IV. The four most widely accepted stages are described as: Stage I: intact skin with redness (erythema) and sometimes with warmth. Stage II: partial-thickness loss of skin, an abrasion, swelling, and possible blistering or peeling of skin. Stage III: full-thickness loss of skin, open wound (crater), and possible exposed under layer. Stage IV: full-thickness loss of skin and underlying tissue, extends into muscle, bone, tendon, or joint. Possible bone destruction, dislocations, or pathologic fractures (not caused by injury). In addition to observing the depth of the wound, the presence or absence of wound drainage and foul odors, or any debris in the wound, such as pieces of dead skin tissue or other material, should also be noted. Any condition that could likely contaminate the wound and cause infection, such as the presence of urine or feces from incontinence, should be noted as well. A doctor should be notified whenever a person: will be bedridden or immobilized for an extended time period is very weak or unable to move develops redness (inflammation) and warmth or peeling on any area of skin Immediate medical attention is required whenever: skin turns black or becomes inflamed, tender, swollen, or warm to the touch the patient develops a fever during treatment a bedsore contains pus or has a foul-smelling discharge Prompt medical attention can prevent surface pressure sores from deepening into more serious infections. The first step is always to reduce or eliminate the pressure that is causing bedsores. For minor bedsores, stages I and II, treatment involves relieving pressure, keeping the wound clean and moist, and keeping the area around the ulcer clean and dry. This is often accomplished with saline washes and the use of sterile medicated gauze dressings that both absorb the wound drainage and fight infection-causing bacteria. Antiseptics , harsh soaps, and other skin cleansers can damage new tissue and should be avoided. Only saline solution should be used to cleanse bedsores whenever fresh non-stick dressings are applied. The patient's doctor may prescribe infection-fighting antibiotics , special dressings or drying agents, and/or lotions or ointments to be applied to the wound in a thin film three or four times a day. Warm whirlpool treatments are sometimes recommended for sores on the arm, hand, foot, or leg. Typically, with the removal or reduction of pressure in conjunction with proper treatment and attention to the patient's general health, including good nutrition, bedsores should begin to heal two to four weeks after treatment begins. Surgical options are often considered for non-healing wounds. When deep wounds are not responding well to standard medical procedures, consultation with a plastic surgeon may be needed to determine if reconstructive surgery is the best possible treatment. In a procedure called debriding, a scalpel may be used to remove dead tissue or other debris from Stage III and IV wounds. A surgical procedure called urinary (or fecal) diversion may also be used with incontinent patients to divert the flow of urinary or fecal material-this keeps the wound clean and encourages wound healing. Reconstruction involves the complete removal of the ulcerated area and surrounding damaged tissue (excision), debriding the bone, and reducing the amount of bacteria in the area with vigorous flushing (lavage) with saline solution. The surgical wound is then drained for a period of days until it is clear that no infection is present and that healing has begun. Plastic surgery may follow to close the wound with a flap (skin from another part of the body), providing a new tissue surface over the bone. For surgery to succeed, infection must not be present. Complications can occur after reconstructive surgery; these include bleeding under the skin (hematoma), wound infection, and the recurrence of pressure sores. Infection in deep wounds can progress to life-threatening systemic infection.Amputation may be required when a wound will not heal or when reconstructive surgery is not an option for a particular patient.