Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Negative-Pressure Wound Therapy in Small Animals


Kevin P. Winkler

, DVM, DACVS, BluePearl Pet Hospital, Sandy Springs, GA

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2023
Topic Resources

Negative-pressure wound therapy (NPWT), also known as vacuum-assisted closure (VAC), is used to aid in wound closure. The benefits attributed to NPWT include:

  • removal of fluid and debris

  • decrease of the bacterial burden

  • enhancement of angiogenesis leading to granulation tissue formation

  • more rapid closure of wounds

The wound is filled with an NPWT foam and covered with an airtight, adhesive dressing. It is important to limit the foam to the actual wound to avoid trauma to adjacent healthy tissue. The site is then connected to a vacuum pump to maintain negative pressure. Pumps allow variable settings for a variety of wound conditions.

In addition to treating external wounds, NPWT may also be used to decrease abdominal contamination. Complications can occur when direct contact is made between the foam and an artery or abdominal organ. Frequently, the most difficult part of the procedure is maintaining an airtight seal in the bandage of the veterinary patient.

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