menu ☰
menu ˟

Negative pressure wound therapy for managementof the surgical incision in orthopaedic surgery: A review of evidence and mechanisms for an emerging indication [Research]

18 Dec 2013


The period of post-operative treatment before surgical wounds are completely closed remains a key window, during which one can apply new technologies that can minimise complications. One such technology is the use of negative pressure wound therapy to manage and accelerate healing of the closed incisional wound (incisional NPWT).


We undertook a literature review of this emerging indication to identify evidence within orthopaedic surgery and other surgical disciplines. Literature that supports our current understanding of the mechanisms of action was also reviewed in detail.


A total of 33 publications were identified, including nine clinical study reports from orthopaedic surgery; four from cardiothoracic surgery and 12 from studies in abdominal, plastic and vascular disciplines. Most papers (26 of 33) had been published within the past three years. Thus far two randomised controlled trials – one in orthopaedic and one in cardiothoracic surgery – show evidence of reduced incidence of wound healing complications after between three and five days of post-operative NPWT of two- and four-fold, respectively. Investigations show that reduction in haematoma and seroma, accelerated wound healing and increased clearance of oedema are significant mechanisms of action.


There is a rapidly emerging literature on the effect of NPWT on the closed incision. Initiated and confirmed first with a randomised controlled trial in orthopaedic trauma surgery, studies in abdominal, plastic and vascular surgery with high rates of complications have been reported recently. The evidence from single-use NPWT devices is accumulating. There are no large randomised studies yet in reconstructive joint replacement.

Cite this article: Bone Joint Res 2013;2:276–84.

18 December 2013

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Bone and Joint Research