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Frequently Asked Questions about V.A.C.® Therapy

Note: The information on this site is intended primarily for healthcare professionals. Patients should consult their healthcare providers regarding their specific medical conditions and treatments as well as about the information provided on this site.

V.A.C. ® Therapy is a unique wound management system specifically designed for many types of wounds through the application of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT). Because it is a highly specialised, highly advanced wound management system, healthcare professionals may not be fully aware of many aspects of V.A.C.® Therapy. These can include functionality, clinical effectiveness, or other aspects.

To assist healthcare professionals, KCI has compiled the following Frequently Asked Questions. For further information, call 1800 33 33 77 or please e-mail and refer to the clinical guidelines and instructions for use provided with the device and dressings.

What’s the difference between V.A.C.® Therapy and other NPWT devices?

There is an important difference between V.A.C.® Therapy and other Negative Pressure Wound Therapy devices. V.A.C.® Therapy has been proved to improve your wound healing outcomes20,5,1,3. Only the integrated V.A.C.® Therapy System uses V.A.C.® GranuFoam® Dressings to deliver optimal wound healing results –other NPWT devices typically use gauze dressings.

Under negative pressure, the hydrophobic, reticulated, open pore structure of V.A.C.® GranuFoam® Dressings creates an environment that promotes faster20 and more effective5 wound healing at the cellular level compared to gauze11,14. When negative pressure is applied to the wound bed through the V.A.C.® GranuFoam® Dressing, mechanical forces stretch cells as tissue is pulled into the open pores of the dressing. This stretching stimulates cellular proliferation, which results in the formation of granulation tissue2,12,13.

Because gauze does not have the open pore structure of V.A.C.® GranuFoam® Dressings, gauze has not been shown in laboratory testing to increase cellular activity, and because of its absorptive nature, gauze may actually interfere with the application of negative pressure and the wound healing process11,14.

You can learn more about how only V.A.C.® Therapy works on the cellular level to promote wound healing.

What’s the difference between V.A.C.® Therapy and wound drainage?

Draining fluids from a wound can be an important part of healing. However, it is just one of several mechanisms of V.A.C.®Therapy.

V.A.C.®Therapy NPWT is indicated to provide all of the following features which are critical to fast20 and effective5 wound healing:

  • Creates an environment that promotes wound healing8
  • Promotes granulation tissue formation and stimulates local blood perfusion2,12,13,19
  • Prepares the wound bed for closure9
  • Reduces oedema10
  • Draws the wound edges together9
  • Removes wound exudate12 and materials which may cause infection6

How do I know if V.A.C.® Therapy is appropriate for my patient’s wound?

V.A.C.® Therapy is indicated for a wide range of acute and chronic wounds and is appropriate for use in all care settings. Learn more about  V.A.C.®Therapy wound types and indications , along with important contraindications and safety information or contact your local KCI representative.

V.A.C.® Therapy has a higher price than some of the other wound care treatment options – why should I use it?

While V.A.C.®Therapy may initially seem more costly, the clinical benefits may actually help lower your overall cost of care. You can learn more about V.A.C.® Therapy’s demonstrated cost effectiveness.

Gauze or foam dressings. Is there a difference?

Yes, there is a clinical difference. Although the V.A.C.® GranuFoam® Dressing (black foam) may seem like simple surgical foam, it has been specifically engineered to deliver NPWT. There are major differences; 1) the beneficial effects of foam (with open pores, manufactured to specifications to achieve a 400-600 micron pore size which is critical) at a cellular level to promote fast20 and effective5 wound healing, 2) the hydrophobic, open pore structure of V.A.C.® GranuFoam® Dressings adapt to the contours of deep or irregularly shaped wounds in order to provide even distribution of pressure at the wound site.
For these reasons, gauze will not provide the benefits of NPWT proved for the V.A.C.® GranuFoam® Dressings, and, in some cases with gauze, the pooling of fluids may occur and interfere with the wound healing process11,14.

What’s the difference between the black foam and the white foam?

The black foam – V.A.C.® GranuFoam® Dressing – is hydrophobic or water repellent. The reticulated, open pore foam allows exudate to be removed and enables the dressing to conform to the wound bed providing a foam-tissue interface. This design allows for better distribution of negative pressure across the wound bed and stimulates tissue granulation.

The white foam – V.A.C.® WhiteFoam Dressing – is hydrophilic or moisture retaining. Its higher tensile strength and less adherent properties are typically indicated for use in tunnels and shallow undermining. It is also beneficially used on exposed hardware and protected exposed tendons and bones.

Is changing the V.A.C.® Dressing a clean or sterile technique?

The decision to use clean versus sterile/aseptic technique is dependent upon wound pathophysiology, clinician preference, and facility protocol. Dressing applications under clean or sterile conditions is entirely at the preference of the clinician concerned. Disposable components of the integrated V.A.C.® (Vacuum Assisted Closure Therapy System, including the foam dressing (i.e., V.A.C. GranuFoam®, V.A.C. GranuFoam Silver®, or V.A.C.® WhiteFoam Dressing), tubing and drapes are packaged sterile and are latex-free. V.A.C.® Therapy Unit canisters are packaged sterile or with sterile fluid path and are latex-free.

A clinician has the option of applying the dressings in the Operating Theatre using a sterile/aseptic technique if needed. The clinician may also use a clean technique for the home setting or for pathologies that do not require sterile technique. As with all dressings that are packaged sterile, the options for use would be those in compliance with the protocols and facility policies regarding wound care.

Can you treat more than one wound with one therapy unit at the same time?

Yes. KCI has established two methods for connecting wounds to one therapy unit: “Bridging” and “Y-connecting.”

Bridging can be performed when you have multiple wounds of similar pathology in close proximity to one another. The V.A.C.® drape is placed on the intact skin between wounds, and a strip of foam is placed from one wound bed to the other over the draped skin. As long as all pieces of foam are touching each other, you can place the tubing in a central location and use one pump to distribute pressure throughout all the wounds.

Y-connecting allows you to treat multiple, non-infected wounds that are a larger distance apart by using a connector that can take two separate tubes. Negative pressure in either situation is evenly applied across the wounds, yet controlled by one pump.

Please reference the V.A.C.® Therapy Clinical Guidelines for more information.

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