Wound Debridement: Before Your Procedure

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What is wound debridement?

When a doctor removes dead tissue from a wound, it's called debridement. Doctors do this to help a wound heal.

It's a good idea to remove dead tissue for a few reasons. First, dead tissue gives bacteria a place to grow. This can cause infection. Second, dead tissue can slow the growth of healthy tissue.

To do this procedure, your doctor may use a saline solution to clean the wound. Then your doctor may do one of these things. He or she may use:

  • A scalpel or scissors to cut dead tissue from the wound.
  • A device that uses pressure to wash the wound.
  • An ointment that goes on top of the wound and breaks down dead tissue.
  • A special bandage over the wound to keep it moist. This can help your body get rid of the dead tissue on its own.

If your wound goes into your muscles and deep tissues, you may need a skin graft. This helps new tissue grow.

How long it takes your wound to heal depends on how serious it is. It also depends on whether you have other health problems that may slow healing. In some cases, people need to have a wound debrided again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your procedure. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before the procedure. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The procedure will take about 20 to 30 minutes. But it can take longer. It depends on how your doctor does the debridement. It also depends on where the wound is, how big it is, and how serious it is.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your procedure. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: June 4, 2016