Successful therapy of venous ulcers combines local wound treatment modalities and ambulatory hemodynamic support to control the underlying disease. Compression bandaging reduces or eliminates edema, and a moist wound environment not only debrides necrotic tissue but also aids development of granulation tissue, a prerequisite for epidermal repair. We have occluded chronic wounds, known to be heavily colonized, with a hydrocolloid dressing for up to 7 days and found that soft-tissue infections occurred in only 1% of all dressing changes in our clinic, compared with 6.5% generally reported in the literature. In venous ulcers, resident bacteria may be beneficial in that their proteolytic activity assists with autolysis of fibrinopurulent wound exudate. The importance of lysing fibrin and reducing the number of existing fibrin "cuffs," thereby improving local tissue oxygenation and nutrient/waste exchange, is not completely understood; however, this phenomenon, in part, may explain the excellent clinical results obtained with one type of hydrocolloid dressing (DuoDERM), which has been shown to lyse fibrin more effectively than other types of moisture-retentive and hydrocolloid dressings.
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