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How to cite this article: Muhammad Saaiq. VAC Therapy: A Valuable Adjunct to Wound Care Armamentarium.

Ann Pak Inst Med Sci 2012;8(2): EDITORIAL

VAC Therapy: A Valuable Adjunct to Wound Care Armamentarium
Muhammad Saaiq Assistant Professor, Burn Care Centre/ Plastic Surgery, PIMS, Islamabad.

Medicine is an ever evolving science. The present day medicine is termed as evidence based medicine wherein practice and policies are guided by sound clinical and experimental evidence supporting the benefits and safety of a given therapeutic modality. Over the last decade, (VAC therapy) has emerged as a novel adjunct to the

Vacuum Assisted Closure therapy

management of surgical wounds across a range of specialties. 1-3 How does the VAC therapy work? Since the technique is relatively new, its exact mechanism of action still continues to be researched. A variety of interrelated factors have been identified to account for its favorable effects on wound healing. These factors can be summarized into three subgroups i.e. removing, reducing and Improving. Firstly the edematous tissue planes

surrounding the wound are characterized by localized collection of interstitial fluid that contains inhibitory factors that suppress mitosis, fibroblasts activity, collagen production, and cell growth.


The VAC therapy actively withdraws this fluid and its constituent inhibitory factors. Secondly the VAC therapy reduces the bacterial counts of the wound to a level far lower than what can cause infection. Thirdly VAC therapy improves the entire healing process through its direct

and indirect effects. With removal of local edema, the microcirculation and lymphatic/ venous drainage is reestablished. The delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the wound is optimized. The micromechanical forces of low pressure suction exerts an Ilizarovian effect at cellular level, resulting in increased expression of mRNA and protein synthesis. There is increased

Angiogenesis. The moist environment provided by VAC technique promotes granulation tissue formation and healing. 4-6 The wound if small is thus encouraged to close spontaneously. Larger and complex wounds are rendered suitable for definitive reconstruction with skin graft or flap. How can the VAC therapy be applied to a wound? Not surprisingly with growing

understanding of the mechanism involved, one can easily construct a VAC dressing at bed side and convert an open wound into a close controlled one. Before its application to the wound, once must make sure that wound is first adequately debrided with excision of all devitalized tissues. Two sheets of synthetic foam are then tailored the size and shape of the wound and the wound is covered with them with a Redivac suction drain placed between the two sheets. A transparent sealing plastic membrane sheet such as Opsite or plastic food wrap is then applied to the foam layers, making the system water tight and air tight. The suction drain is connected to Suction machine or wall vacuum suction maintained at 50-120 mmHg. It is maintained for five days, at which point the VAC dressing is removed. A fresh VAC dressing may be applied for another five days and the wound re-evaluated for further definitive management. 1 What kind of wounds are suitable for VAC therapy? In fact the VAC therapy finds almost universal applicability across a range of wounds, with only few contraindications such as


malignancy, bleeding diathesis and exposed major blood vessels. When employed, VAC therapy helps to temporize wounds, giving time for stabilization of the patient until complex reconstructive procedures can be instituted on a prepared wound bed. It is effective both in the preparatory phase of wound prior to any reconstruction and as postoperative dressings for securing skin grafts especially in wounds on difficult anatomic locations. 1, 7-10 Owing to its low cost, VAC therapy provides an economical alternative to the other available costly local wound management measures. Such economic implications of wound management are particularly important in the context of our limited health budgets. It also reduces the need for daily change of dressing thus comforting the patients on one hand and reducing the work load of the staff responsible for wound dressings on the other hand. With expeditious wound healing, the overall hospital stay of the patients is also reduced. 1 Given the growing body of quality evidence, VAC therapy should be adequately employed particularly in the problem wounds and in the problem patients such as those with diabetes mellitus and peripheral vascular disease. Nonetheless once must not forget that it is an adjunct to other established wound care measures such as thorough debridement and not a substitute for them.


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