What is wound debridement?
When a doctor removes dead or unhealthy tissue from a wound, it's called debridement (say "dih-BREED-munt"). Doctors do this to help a wound heal.
It's a good idea to remove dead tissue for a few reasons. First, dead tissue gives bacteria a place to grow. This can cause infection. Second, dead tissue can slow the growth of healthy tissue.
To do this procedure, the doctor may use a saline solution to clean the wound. Then the doctor may use:
- A scalpel or scissors to cut dead tissue from the wound.
- A device that uses pressure to wash the wound.
- An ointment that goes on top of the wound and breaks down dead tissue.
- A special bandage over the wound to keep it moist. This can help your child's body get rid of the dead tissue on its own.
If your child's wound is large, your child may need a skin graft. This helps new tissue grow.
How do you prepare for the procedure?
Procedures can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's procedure.
Preparing for the procedure
- Talk to your child about the procedure. Say that it will help your child heal better. Hospitals know how to take care of children. The staff will do all they can to make it easier for your child.
- Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- Tell the doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies your child takes. Some may increase the risk of problems during the procedure. Your doctor will tell you if your child should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
The day before the procedure
- A nurse may call you (or you may need to call the hospital). This is to confirm the time and date of your child's procedure and answer any questions.
- Remember to follow your doctor's instructions about your child taking or stopping medicines before the procedure. This includes over-the-counter medicines.
What happens on the day of the procedure?
- Follow the instructions exactly about when your child should stop eating and drinking. If you don't, the procedure may be canceled. If your doctor told you to have your child take any medicines on the day of the procedure, have your child take them with only a sip of water.
- Follow the doctor's instructions about when your child should bathe or shower before the procedure. Do not apply lotion or deodorant.
- Your child may brush their teeth. But tell your child not to swallow any toothpaste or water.
- Do not let your child wear contact lenses. Bring your child's glasses or contact lens case.
- Be sure your child has something that's a reminder of home. A special stuffed animal, toy, or blanket may be comforting. For an older child, it might be a book or music.
At the hospital or surgery center
- A parent or legal guardian must accompany your child.
- Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by the anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make your child sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
- The procedure will likely take about 30 minutes. But it can take longer. It depends on how the doctor does the debridement. It also depends on where the wound is, how big it is, and how serious it is.
Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Margaret Doucette DO - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wound Care, Hyperbaric Medicine & Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine