What can start out as a small wound after surgery can lead to infections and even death. In fact, every year about 500,000 patients in the United States develop surgical site infections, which claim more than 10,000 lives.
Now, a new simple treatment for wounds can help heal them before they have a chance to kill.
Even walking short distances used to be too much for Delores Gray.
“I couldn’t walk a half a block without having to stop; my leg would ache so bad,” said Gray, who had surgery before for a blocked artery, but a new blockage meant another surgery. "The first time, the one side, took forever to heal."
This time around, however, doctors used a new wound healing therapy known as PICO.
PICO is a hand-held pump, which works by sealing an advanced airtight dressing around the wound.
"That actually draws the exudate or the fluid from the wound away from the wound," said Dr. Victor D'Addio, vascular surgeon at the Mary Washington Hospital and director of the Rappahannock Wound Center.
The negative pressure also encourages blood flow, speeding up the healing process.
“And so a week after their surgery, their wound is healed," D’Addio said.
Surgical site infections cost the health care system billions of dollars a year because of longer hospital stays, re-admissions and treatment, making advances in wound care all the more important.