Determining the Useful Life of Dressings for Prevention by Means other than Fluid Handling Capacity

The science of wound dressings has advanced from the rags gathered by aid societies in the 1700 and 1800’s to highly engineered materials that manage fluid, shear, compression, antimicrobial processes and wound progression.  Historically wound dressing life has been determined using moisture management characteristics.  As the technical function and cost of dressings increase, understanding the ability of the dressing to perform under these technical requirements throughout the time of use becomes critical to their proper clinical application.  With the increasing use of dressings in prophylaxis, historic tests have limited applicability.  We introduce the concept of challenging the dressing under clinical conditions rather than wound exudate.  This provides the opportunity to measure properties of a dressings intended use in the more challenging areas of technical function.  Further, this allows us to measure the relative properties provided by different structures and materials of construction seen in the commercially available dressings.  Here tensile properties of the dressings in both the head to foot and hip to hip directions of sacral dressings as assemblies and as individual component layers are presented.  In addition, the concept of compression as a protective element is also measured.  This information further supports the use of FEA in modeling the dressings performance and predicting their efficacy in challenging environments.