Fundamentals of Sharp Debridement

Fundamentals of Sharp Debridement
Jennifer Spector
Thu, 01/04/2024 – 13:32


Hello, I’m John Lantis, vascular surgeon, and today I’d like to spend a little bit of time speaking to you about the benefits of debridement and some fundamentals of the technique – very simple office-based debridement for the outpatient wound.

The goals of the debridement are to take away the skin edges that would be hyperkeratotic, which would be around the edges. Those cells are actually cells that usually don’t even know how to migrate across the wound bed and need to be removed. But one also doesn’t want to forget the base of the wound where, at the base of the wound you would have increased bacterial burden and cells, if they’re present, that are very senescent or quiescent, in that they’re not able to turn over.

So, there are various ways of debriding and methods, but we’re going to be talking about sharp debridement today, specifically. (For) sharp debridement, you want to have a rounded blade. Using an 11 blade, which is the pointed blade, is not useful in most cases.

So this is a 10 blade, a 15 blade, which looks like the junior cousin of this, and just a smaller version fundamentally, can be useful as well, although it has less of a cutting surface. A 10 blade is also better for very difficult callus, but harder for small wounds.

You also always want to be a 2-handed debrider or 2-handed surgeon. You want to have something in your other hand that allows for counter force. Of course, in some settings you might want to use scissors as well, but first we’re going to teach about using the blade. What you’re going to want to do is come in at about a 45 degree angle on the edges. I always tell my residents that cells are much more happy to run down a beach than to jump off a cliff.

So you want to get that circumferential, 45-degree beveled angle out to healthy bleeding tissue in most cases, which is also a requirement for documentation in most environments. You keep your hand at an angle, which I know this might be hard to see on camera, but you keep your hand at an angle at which you can bevel those edges at that 45 degree angle. Once you have the edges taken back, then you’re going to work at the base of that wound. The base of that wound you may want to almost scrape like this to get healthier. Sometimes you’re going to get in and underneath the tissue in that wound, actually pick it up and move it like this. And sometimes if they have a lot of fibrinous base, one of the things you can do is to take the back of your forcep, which is less likely to be very sharp and damaging, and really get the fibrous slough off down there to get that done.

You have gauze in your other hand. You can wipe that clean on the other side and use it that way. Or, you can also use the back of your scalpel, especially the 15 blade, which is smaller than this, lends itself to this very well. Use the back of the scalpel and get that clean. You don’t want to forget the edges or the base of the wound to get the maximum results. After that you can worry about topical hemostasis.

Usually a little pressure is good enough. At times you may want to use silver nitrate, somewhat sparingly. Remember it’s bacteriostatic, but it will be helpful to have on hand. Our usual setup for debridement will include having topical lidocaine applied and left in place for approximately 10 minutes prior to debridement if the patient has pain.

Having our sharp instruments available to us, having a disposable forcep in the outpatient setting is easier to deal with. As is having an appropriate secondary dressing on hand or an appropriate assistant available to help you at the end of the procedure.


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