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Acute Wounds

Acute Wounds

An acute wound is a sudden injury to the skin. Acute wounds can happen anywhere on the body. They range in depth from superficial scratches to deep, penetrating wounds.

Understanding acute wounds

An acute wound is a sudden injury to the skin. Acute wounds can happen anywhere on the body. They range in depth from superficial scratches to deep, penetrating wounds.1

Healing vs non-healing acute wounds

Acute wounds can either be healing, or non-healing wounds. Healing wounds are usually caused by a one-off injury or trauma. They follow a normal healing process that is stable and predictable.1

In non-healing acute wounds, the normal healing process is disrupted. This can happen for two reasons:

  • the wound doesn’t respond to treatment, and/or
  • the treatment demands are too much for your patient’s physical health, tolerance or stamina.2

Remember: All acute wounds can become non-healing wounds if they’re not properly managed

Surgical wounds are intentional incisions. They are precise cuts that create clean edges around the wound. They can be closed with stitches, staples or adhesive. Or they can be left open to heal.1 The average healing time for surgical wounds is 14 days.2

Traumatic wounds are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue that are caused by an external force.1 The average healing time for traumatic wounds ranges from 14-28 days, depending on the type of wound.2

Let’s take a close look at the different types of surgical wounds.

The four categories of surgical wounds

Surgical wounds are classified based on how likely they are to become infected after surgery. This infection risk can come from three sources:

  • where the wound is on the body,
  • how clean or contaminated the wound is, or
  • from infection already in the body before surgery.

Below you can see the four categories of surgical wounds and their characteristics.

Class I: Clean Class II: Clean-contaminated
Class III: Contaminated Class IV Dirty-Infected
  • The wound isn’t infected or inflamed.
  • The wound doesn’t enter the respiratory, gastrointestinal, genital or urinary tract.
  • If the wound has to be drained, the surgeon uses a closed draining method.
  • Example: Laparoscopic surgeries or biopsies.
  • A clean wound with a higher risk of infection because of its location.
  • The surgery involves entering the respiratory, gastrointestinal, genital or urinary tract, but under controlled conditions.
  • Example: Tonsillectomy
  • The wound is contaminated.
  • The contamination can come from an outside object that came in contact with the wound (such as a pointy object). Or it can come from the gastrointestinal tract leaking into the wound.
  • If there is infected or inflamed tissue around the surgical wound, it’s considered contaminated.
  • Example: Haemorrhoidectomy
  • These wounds are dirty-infected.
  • This category includes traumatic wounds that haven’t been treated promptly, infected surgical wounds and wounds that have been exposed to pus or faecal material.
  • Example: Chronic wound debridement
Understand Surgical Wound Dehiscence
Surgical wound dehiscence

Surgical wound dehiscence – what it is and why it is important

In this section, you’ll learn:

  • what surgical wound dehiscence is
  • what causes it
  • what impact it can have on your patient
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How to manage acute wounds

How to manage acute wounds

In this section, you’ll learn:

  • how to assess acute wounds
  • how to manage acute wounds
  • how to create an optimal healing environment
Treating infection in surgical wounds
surgical wounds

How to treat infection in surgical wounds

In this section, you’ll learn:

  • what the clinical signs of surgical site infection are
  • who is at risk of developing a surgical site infection 
  • how to manage a surgical site infection 

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