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Wound Drainage Systems Review

To aid in a speedy recovery of surgical patients, many different types of wound drainage systems have been created. Without the use of an effective drainage system, a post-surgical wound can easily become infected. These infections can become extremely severe and spread to other areas and organs of the body. The most common three wound drainage types are Penrose drains, negative pressure drains, and Jackson-Pratt drains.

Named for the famed American doctor Charles Bingham Penrose, the Penrose drain is basically a length of soft rubber tubing that is placed inside of a wound area to facilitate the drainage of wound areas. The tubing can also be fabricated from silicon. Usually, it is attached to the wound directly after surgery to avoid the proliferation of bacteria in pools of blood or other bodily fluids. In addition, hydrocephalus patients have found this drainage format beneficial in draining cerebrospinal fluid.

Negative pressure wound therapy is used primarily to improve the speed of recovery in burn victims and to enhance healing in chronic or severe wounds. In this type of treatment the wound is sealed using gauze or a dressing of foam, covered with a drape layer, and then a vacuum source which adds negative pressure to the wound area. The vacuum helps the drainage of wound areas by removing fluid and dessicated tissue, enhancing blood flow through the affected region, lowering bacterial levels, stimulating cell growth, closing the wound edges, and promoting granulation tissue. The dressing will be replaced frequently to remove wound fluids. This technique is most commonly associated with chronic wounds but is also used in cases of diabetic foot ulcers, traumatic wounds, and venous insufficiency ulcers.

In the Jackson-Pratt drains, or Bulb drain, a continuous suction pressure is applied to the wound by use of a flexible bulb. The bulb is used both as a mechanism of providing suction and as a reservoir for the escaping fluid. After the device has been attached to the wound, a patient needs only to squeeze the plastic bulb to create suction. Once the bulb has filled with discharge from the wound, it can easily be removed, washed, and reattached to drain more liquid. Physicians generally recommend that the bulb should be removed when it has become over half full with liquid. When cleaning the system, a damp towel or cloth should be used to strip the tube of any clots or other obstructions that may limit the flow of the removal liquid.

With the many wound drainage types available, a surgical patient can be confident in the ability to keep a wound free of foreign bacterias and reduce the chances of incurring in a potentially dangerous infection. Before surgery, a local doctor should explain all wound drainage options to a patient. In addition to keeping the wound sterile, the wound drainage systems can also be beneficial by greatly reducing the amount of time needed for recovery.