Skin-Graft Harvesting System Speeds Chronic Wound Recovery

Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Friday, February 3rd, 2017
A novel autograft system speeds up chronic wound healing, and reduces health care costs.

In the United States, there are more than 6 million cases of chronic wounds that cost $20 billion each year. These wounds include pressure sores, surgical site wounds, diabetic ulcers, and traumatic injuries to high-risk patients.

The current gold standard for treating traumatic and burn injury-related skin loss is split-thickness skin grafting, which involves the removal of the top 2 layers of skin from a healthy donor site and transplanting the tissue to an injured area.

The drawbacks of this treatment is that the procedure must be performed in an operating room and is limited by the availability of donor skin, according to the investigators. Furthermore, donor sites are typically painful and large in size, and they can become chronic wounds.

In a study published in Cureus, the investigators used a recently developed autograft harvesting system––which they did not develop––to care for 13 patients with various types of chronic wounds. Using the technique, the investigators harvested only the top layer of skin for much smaller, consistently sized donor grafts.

The results revealed significantly less donor site damage and little to no pain. Furthermore, this minimally invasive approach was performed in an outpatient clinical setting. The investigators then followed the patients’ care and clinical outcomes, and evaluated the costs.

“Eight of the 13 high-risk patients treated with the autograft system experienced much faster healing of their chronic wounds,” said lead author Jeffrey Litt, DO. “Four of these patients fully healed in less than 1 month. Additionally, the comparatively rapid closure of the open wounds also reduced health care costs by an average of $1153 per patient and $650 to the burn and wound program.”

The findings also revealed that the technique’s rapid healing resulted in no wound recurrence.

“We have been using this minimally invasive autograft technology for more than a year, and it is well tolerated by our patients and easy to use by our team,” Litt said. “Given that, and the health care cost savings, we feel that this new approach to wound care is beneficial to everyone, and we will continue to evaluate outcomes.”

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