Why Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) is becoming best practice

Vibrant Water Painting: Hand Reaching Towards Rapidly Moving Clock - Symbolizing Accelerated Healing with NPWT

In the dynamic field of healthcare, one practice is steadily gaining recognition for its transformative impact on wound care – Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT). NPWT not only accelerates healing times but also minimizes the risk of infections, enhancing patient comfort throughout the healing process. However, like any medical procedure, it’s not without its challenges and limitations. This article will delve into the science behind NPWT, its benefits, potential drawbacks, and why it’s increasingly being adopted as a best practice. We’ll also explore real-world case studies of NPWT in various settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home care. As a part of MasVida Health’s commitment to making healthcare healthier, we believe in the power of knowledge sharing to improve patient outcomes and quality of care. Let’s delve into the world of NPWT together.

Understanding Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT)

What is NPWT?

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT), also known as vacuum-assisted closure (VAC), is a therapeutic technique that uses a suction pump, tubing, and a dressing to remove excess exudate and promote healing in acute or chronic wounds and second-and third-degree burns. It is primarily utilized to treat complex wounds which are non-healing or at risk of non-healing, such as diabetic foot ulcers or skin grafts. The therapy involves the controlled application of sub-atmospheric pressure to the local wound environment using a sealed wound dressing connected to a vacuum pump. The use of this technique in wound management started in the 1990s and is often recommended for a range of wounds including dehisced surgical wounds, closed surgical wounds, open abdominal wounds, open fractures, pressure injuries or pressure ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, venous insufficiency ulcers, some types of skin grafts, burns, sternal wounds. It may also be considered after a clean surgery in a person who is obese.

How Does NPWT Work?

NPWT is performed by applying a vacuum through a special sealed dressing. The continued vacuum draws out fluid from the wound and increases blood flow to the area. The vacuum may be applied continuously or intermittently, depending on the type of wound being treated and the clinical objectives. Typically, the dressing is changed two to three times per week. The dressings used for the technique include foam dressings and gauze, sealed with an occlusive dressing intended to contain the vacuum at the wound site. Where NPWT devices allow the delivery of fluids, such as saline or antibiotics to irrigate the wound, intermittent removal of used fluid supports the cleaning and drainage of the wound bed. You can learn more about our NPWT program by visiting this page.

The Science Behind NPWT

The use of NPWT to enhance wound healing is thought to be by removing excess extracellular fluid and decreasing tissue edema, which leads to increased blood flow and stabilization of the wound environment. A reduction in systemic (e.g. interleukins, monocytes) and local mediators of inflammation has been demonstrated in experimental models, while decreased matrix metalloproteinase activity and bacterial burden have been documented clinically. In vivo, NPWT has been shown to increase fibroblast proliferation and migration, and collagen organization, and to increase the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and fibroblast growth factor-2, thereby enhancing wound healing.

Benefits of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT)

Faster Healing Times

One of the primary benefits of NPWT is its ability to accelerate the wound-healing process. By creating a vacuum that draws out fluid from the wound, NPWT increases blood flow to the area, promoting faster healing. This is particularly beneficial for wounds that are non-healing or at risk of non-healing, such as diabetic foot ulcers or skin grafts.

Reduced Risk of Infection

NPWT also plays a significant role in reducing the risk of wound infections. By continuously or intermittently removing excess fluid from the wound, NPWT helps to keep the wound clean and free from bacteria, thereby reducing the risk of infection. This is especially important in healthcare settings, where the risk of Healthcare-Acquired Infections (HAIs) is high.

Improved Patient Comfort

Another key benefit of NPWT is its potential to enhance patient comfort during the wound-healing process. The vacuum created by NPWT not only promotes faster healing but also reduces pain and discomfort associated with wound care. This can significantly improve the patient’s overall experience and quality of life during the healing process. As part of MasVida Health’s mission to make healthcare healthier, we are committed to providing solutions like NPWT that not only improve patient outcomes but also enhance patient comfort and satisfaction. You can learn more about our NPWT program here.

Challenges and Limitations of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT)

Contraindications of NPWT

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) is a powerful tool in wound management, but it’s not suitable for all situations. Certain conditions and wound types contraindicate its use. For instance, NPWT should not be used on wounds with malignancy or untreated osteomyelitis. It’s also not recommended for wounds in proximity to the vagus nerve or for wounds with necrotic tissue and eschar present. Fistulas to organs and body cavities, particularly non-enteric and unexplored fistulas, are also contraindications. Healthcare professionals must evaluate each patient’s unique circumstances before deciding on the use of NPWT.

Potential Side Effects

While NPWT can offer significant benefits, it’s not without potential side effects. Some of the most common complications associated with NPWT include pain, bleeding, and infection. There’s also the risk of foam retention, which can lead to further infection if not managed properly. Other potential complications include pressure necrosis from the tubing, injury to the skin around the wound, and growth of granulation tissue into the foam. Patients and healthcare providers need to be aware of these potential side effects and monitor them during treatment.

Why NPWT is Becoming a Best Practice

Evidence of Effectiveness

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) is becoming a best practice in wound care due to its proven effectiveness. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of NPWT in accelerating wound healing and reducing the risk of infection. For instance, a systematic review of clinical trials found that patients treated with NPWT were more likely to achieve complete wound closure compared to those receiving standard wound care. Furthermore, NPWT is particularly effective for complex wounds that are non-healing or at risk of non-healing, such as diabetic foot ulcers or skin grafts.

Benefits for Patient Care

NPWT aligns with patient-centered care principles, making it a preferred choice in wound management. By promoting faster healing and reducing the risk of infection, NPWT improves patient comfort and satisfaction. The therapy can be tailored to the individual needs of the patient, considering factors such as the type of wound and the patient’s overall health status. Moreover, NPWT can be administered in various settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and even at home, providing flexibility and convenience for patients.

Alignment with Healthcare Trends

The adoption of NPWT is in line with current trends in healthcare, which emphasize evidence-based practices, patient-centered care, and the use of technology to improve health outcomes. As a technologically advanced wound care solution, NPWT represents a significant advancement in the field. Furthermore, as healthcare systems worldwide strive to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs, NPWT offers a cost-effective solution for managing complex wounds.

Case Studies of NPWT in Practice

NPWT in Hospital Settings

A case study published in the Journal of Wound Management & Prevention illustrates the effective use of NPWT in a hospital setting. The patient, a 45-year-old male with necrotizing fasciitis, was treated with NPWT following surgical debridement. The therapy facilitated wound healing and the patient was discharged with a portable NPWT device for continued treatment at home. The case highlights the role of NPWT in managing severe wounds in hospital settings and facilitating a transition to home care.

NPWT in Long-Term Care Facilities

A case report in the Journal of Wound Care presents an instance of NPWT being used effectively in a long-term care facility. The patient, an elderly woman with a pressure ulcer, was treated with NPWT. The therapy resulted in significant wound size reduction and the patient reported less pain. This case underscores the potential of NPWT in improving wound care in long-term care facilities.

NPWT in Home Care

While specific case studies of NPWT in-home care are limited, numerous clinical trials and studies have demonstrated the feasibility and effectiveness of home-based NPWT. For instance, a study published in the International Wound Journal found that home-based NPWT is a safe and effective option for patients with complex wounds, leading to improved wound healing outcomes and patient satisfaction. This suggests that NPWT can be successfully implemented in a home care setting, providing patients with a convenient and effective wound care solution.


Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) is revolutionizing wound care with its proven effectiveness, alignment with patient-centered care principles, and adaptability to current healthcare trends. Its benefits, such as accelerated healing times, reduced risk of infection, and improved patient comfort, make it a preferred choice in various settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home care. However, it’s important to consider its contraindications, potential side effects, and cost considerations. Real-world case studies further illustrate its practical application and effectiveness. As we continue to strive for better patient outcomes and quality of care, NPWT stands as a testament to the power of innovation in healthcare.


How should NPWT equipment be maintained?

Maintaining NPWT equipment is crucial for the therapy’s effectiveness. This involves monitoring the NPWT system as per current clinical guidelines, ensuring the airtight seal is maintained for optimal tissue healing, and replacing the dressing as needed.

Can NPWT be used on all types of wounds?

NPWT can be utilized to manage a variety of acute and chronic wounds. This includes open fasciotomy wounds, diabetic foot ulcers, and closed surgical incisions. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if NPWT is the right treatment for a specific wound type.

How long does NPWT take to heal wounds?

The length of time NPWT treatment takes before the wound is healed can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the wound. Treatment can last anywhere from a couple of days to several months. It’s important to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions for the duration of the treatment.

Can NPWT be used at home?

Yes, NPWT can be used at home. Studies have shown that the use of NPWT at home results in faster wound healing than that of standard wound dressings. However, it’s important to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions and guidelines for home use to ensure the therapy’s effectiveness.

What are the benefits of using NPWT at home?

Using NPWT at home can provide several benefits. It allows patients to continue their daily routines while receiving treatment. It also reduces the need for frequent hospital visits, making it a convenient option for many patients. However, it’s important to receive proper training on how to use the equipment at home to ensure safe and effective treatment.

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