Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) is a highly effective treatment for acute and chronic wounds, earning significant recognition in the medical field. This advanced wound care treatment utilizes a vacuum dressing to encourage wound healing by applying sub-atmospheric pressure to the affected area. Polyurethane foam has been vital to the success of NPWT and is a critical component in supporting the healing process. The foam has a porous structure allowing for the exchange of air and fluids.

The Purpose of Foam in NPWT

  1. Fluid absorbing: The foam in NPWT manages the exudates and other fluids that accumulate in the wound bed. By effectively retaining these fluids, the foam maintains an optimal moisture balance in the wound, preventing excessive hydration or dehydration. This creates a favorable environment for cell proliferation and tissue granulation, which are essential processes in wound healing.
  2. Wound stabilization: Foam dressings contribute to wound stabilization by providing a supportive structure for the surrounding tissues, helping to maintain the shape and integrity of the wound bed, and reduces the likelihood of wound edge collapse or maceration.
  3. Tissue deformation: Applying negative pressure to the foam dressing results in an even distribution of pressure across the wound bed, which promotes microstrain and has been associated with angiogenesis and granular tissue formation.
  4. Wound integrity: Foam protects tissue from direct contact with negative pressure. Foam softness makes it ideal for cushioning the wound bed and reducing pain and discomfort.
  5. Infection control: The foam dressing in NPWT not only retains wound exudates but also serves as a barrier against potential contaminants, such as bacteria and other pathogens. By keeping the wound environment clean, the foam helps reduce the risk of infection and supports the overall healing process.
  6. Promotion of wound contraction: During NPWT, the foam dressing contracts to help reduce the wound surface area, promoting faster healing and minimizing scar formation.

Benefits of Foam in NPWT

The success of NPWT relies on the proper functioning of its components, including the foam component. Contaminated or improperly cleaned foam can compromise the therapy’s effectiveness, potentially leading to suboptimal healing, adverse reactions, or even therapy failure.

Maintaining cleanliness is crucial in NPWT to prevent infection, improve outcomes, and provide patient safety. Medical grade foam is treated with an antimicrobial agent to help kill bacteria and other microorganisms that may be present in the wound bed and provide a sterile environment.  Sterile foam is manufactured, packaged, and shipped to ensure they are free from viable contamination.

Foam can be cut to any shape and size and therefore provides the perfect fit for the wound without affecting the healthy tissue on the wound margins.

Non-cytotoxic foam is biocompatible, which does not harm living tissue and therefore doesn’t interfere with the healing process.

The initial cost-effectiveness of engineered foam is a significant factor in negative wound pressure therapy. While the number of rounds of treatment varies depending on the size and severity of the wound, each round of therapy can last several days to several weeks and require multiple dressing changes. The initial cost, when combined with improved outcomes requiring fewer interventions, makes the foam component a critical part of the therapy.

The ongoing challenge with NPWT is to determine the best circumstances in which to perform the treatment. NPWT depends on the specific wound and patient needs. The choice of dressing will depend on factors such as wound size, location, depth, and drainage level, we well as the patient’s overall health status.

Foamtec Medical is the global leader in engineering and manufacturing medical-grade polyurethane foam for a host of critical applications such as NPWT.  Our state-of-the-art facilities integrate foam production with fabrication to ensure we deliver a finished device that meets our customer and end-users specifications for a satisfying product experience.