WHO issues guidelines suggesting use of negative pressure wound therapy to reduce surgical site infections risk

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced new global guidelines concerning surgical site infections (SSIs) suggesting the use of prophylactic negative pressure wound therapy (pNPWT, or closed incision negative pressure therapy (ciNPT)) over conventional wound dressings on primarily closed surgical incisions in high-risk wounds for the prevention of SSIs.

SSIs are a significant contributor to unnecessary costs associated with patient complications. In establishing these guidelines, WHO has recognised the significant burden that SSIs place on global healthcare systems, both in terms of financial implications and patient outcomes.

WHO commissioned a systematic review and meta-analysis of 21 studies including both randomised controlled trials and observational studies. Of these, 76% used ACELITY™ negative pressure therapy products. The conclusions, published in the September issue of Medicine, found that pNPWT significantly reduced the risk of SSIs compared to traditional dry gauze dressings.  

Dr Ron Silverman, chief medical officer of Acelity, said: “The new WHO guidelines build upon a significant body of evidence that illustrates the impact negative pressure therapy can have in reducing the incidence of surgical site infections.”

SSIs are associated with productivity loss, extended hospital stays, increased health care provider visits and greater financial costs, especially in the US. According to one study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the average cost of an SSI in 2012 was estimated to be $20,785 per patient. Surgeons from various disciplines have found that ciNPT is associated with positive clinical outcomes compared to standard post-operative dressings.