Difference Between Acute & Chronic Wounds

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Basically, when we talk about differentiating acute and chronic injuries or wounds, it should be first stated that both these are wounds of an extreme nature.

Acute wounds or injuries are those that heal within a defined time period, usually two weeks in a healthy person. However, when acute wounds fail to heal properly or see slow or stagnated healing these are categorized as chronic.

The reason for not healing can be many, in a chronic wound. This could be because of lack of proper blood supply and/or adequate oxygen required for normal wound healing.

Blood or oxygen supply to the wound could be curtailed as a result of constant localized pressure over the wound (e.g. due to use of non breathable bandages or dressings) that compress both venous and arterial vessels. As a result there is a decrease in nutrition and oxygen supply to the tissue, which eventually results in tissue breakdown.

Basically, chronic wounds are an aggravated stage of an acute wound. These can be caused by many other things as well. Things such as:

– Diabetes
– autoimmune diseases
– chemical agents
– radiotherapeutic agents
– infections
– peripheral vascular disease.

Both, acute and chronic wounds are severe and very dangerous. In some cases chronic wounds could also become life threatening. While treating chronic wounds we should take into consideration all internal medical and external environmental hurdles that will affect body parts affected by the wound. Unless these issues are addressed successful healing of a chronic wound will not take place.

There are certain goals that need to be achieved when treating wounds of acute or chronic nature. These are:

1. Addressing internal medical problems and external environmental issues.
2. Getting all chronic wounds to convert to acute wounds by:

a. debridement of necrotic tissue
b. decrease bioburden: Bioburdens include non-viable tissue, excessive bacterial count, infection, edema and foreign materials. If bioburdens are present, they will prevent white blood cells from healing the wound.
c. improve wound nutrition.

It is also very important to use a proper bandage and dressing. The choice should only be influenced by how much the wound is draining or leaking liquid and how much of granulation tissue is present in the wound.

It is of utmost importance, if you want quick and uneventful healing, that there is immediate and proper identification of a chronic wound following which there are proper steps taken to convert the chronic wound to and acute wound.

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