Negative Pressure Wound Therapy

What is Negative Pressure Wound Therapy?

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) is a method of decreasing air pressure around a wound to assist the healing.

This system may help your wound heal more quickly by:

  • Draining excess fluid from the wound
  • Reducing swelling
  • Reducing bacteria in the wound
  • Keeping your wound moist and warm
  • Helping draw together wound edges
  • Increasing blood flow to your wound
  • Decreasing redness and swelling (inflammation)

What happens during NPWT treatment of a wound?

  • A healthcare provider will cover your wound with a foam or gauze wound dressing. An adhesive film will be put over the dressing and wound. This seals the wound. The foam connects to a drainage tube, which leads to a vacuum pump. This pump is portable. When the pump is turned on, it draws fluid through the foam and out the drainage tubing. The pump may run all the time, or it may cycle on and off.

    In most cases, the dressing should be changed 2 to 3 times a week. If the wound is infected, the dressing may need to be changed more often. Who changes it? In most cases, the dressing will be changed by a nurse from your doctor’s office or a home health service. It is important that you do not change the settings on your equipment unless instructed to do so by your doctor or nurse.

    You will likely need to use the NPTW system for several weeks or months. During the therapy, you will need to carry the portable pump everywhere you go.

    How does NPWT feel?

    Most patients describe NPWT Therapy as a non-painful, mild pulling sensation that, in most cases, is not noticeable after a few minutes. Wound comfort may vary by individual person. The wound may become tender or itch as it heals; this is usually a good sign. If itching or discomfort persists, please contact your doctor.

What if the alarm goes off?

The pump may sound an alarm if there is a leak in the seal of your dressing. Here’s what to do:

  • If you have a home health nurse, call the nurse to come and repair or replace the dressing.
  • If you have your dressings changed in the clinic, call the clinic and tell them you need to go in and have your dressing repaired or replaced.
  • Do not keep the NPWT dressing on without suction for more than 2 hours, as this can cause infection. If you cannot get your dressing repaired or replaced within 2 hours from your healthcare provider, ask them if you should remove the entire dressing and place a gauze dressing over the wound.
  • If, you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately. fever
  • bleeding around the wound
  • rash around your wound
  • dizziness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • confusion
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • if there is blood or blood clots in the tubing or collection chamber of the device