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  1. de Leon, Jean M. MD
  2. Barnes, Sunni PhD
  3. Nagel, Melody PT
  4. Fudge, Michelle PT
  5. Lucius, Adora RN, CWOCN
  6. Garcia, Betty


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) using reticulated open-cell foam (NPWT/ROCF) as delivered by a Vacuum-Assisted Closure* (KCI Licensing, Inc, San Antonio, Texas) in patients with complex wounds in a long-term acute care (LTAC) setting. These patients are routinely discharged to LTAC hospitals with the goal of accelerating wound healing and timely transfer to a lower acuity care setting and are usually affected with serious comorbidities and deep, complex wounds with exposed anatomical structures, which require extended care (stay > 25 days).


DESIGN: A retrospective chart review was conducted to determine the average daily wound volume reduction, average daily wound area reduction, and average cost per cubic centimeter of wound volume reduction for patients treated with NPWT/ROCF as compared with topical advanced moist healing strategies (non-NPWT).


SETTING: All patients received treatment in an LTAC hospital.


PARTICIPANTS: Patients admitted from November 2001 to August 2004 were identified using a computerized hospital database. The inclusion criteria were postsurgical patients of at least 18 years of age, with a single acute wound.


INTERVENTION: Patients were treated with either NPWT/ROCF or advanced moist wound-healing therapies (non-NPWTs).


MEASUREMENTS: Data collected included age, sex, wound measurements, Bates-Jensen Wound Assessment Tool severity score, procedures performed, wound care products and devices used, wound-healing outcomes, and costs associated with treatment.


RESULTS: Fifty-one patients met the inclusion criteria: 36 were identified as NPWT/ROCF and 15 as non-NPWT. The NPWT/ROCF patients showed a statistically significantly higher average daily rate of volume reduction as compared with the advanced moist wound-healing group (5.02 +/- 13.36 vs 0.40 +/- 0.88 cm3/day; P = .046). The cost per cubic centimeter reduction was $11.90/cm3 in the NPWT/ROCF group versus $30.92/cm3 in the moist wound-healing group.


CONCLUSION: Postsurgical LTAC patients who were treated by NPWT/ROCF had a more accelerated rate of wound closure, compared with patients treated with advanced moist wound-healing therapy. These results suggest that, for this patient group, NPWT/ROCF may be more clinically effective in reducing wound volume, compared with advanced moist wound healing. Furthermore, the lower cost per cubic centimeter volume reduction suggests that NPWT/ROCF produces a more favorable cost-effective solution. Therefore, it is important when developing a wound-healing strategy that cost decisions be based on overall cost and not individual product cost when using advanced technology as part of the overall treatment plan. This study serves as a basis for further work in cost-benefit analysis when considering evidence-based outcomes in wound care.