A vacuum pump works by either continuously or periodically creating negative pressure inside a wound. The negative pressure removes fluid, infectious material or exudates from the wound in preparation for closure and to help the wound heal, explains the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Negative pressure wound therapy treats chronic and acute wounds. The system consists of a vacuum pump, wound dressing, adhesive film dressing and a drainage tube. Wound dressing, consisting of gauze or foam, helps close the wound, according to the FDA. Evolutions of the system, such as safer and more efficient components, enable the system to be user-friendly for patient use outside the hospital setting.
Although patients typically benefit from negative pressure wound therapy, severe injury or death may occur if the health care provider does not properly monitor the device labels, warnings and uses or does not select the correct device for each individual’s medical needs. Patients prone to bleeding problems should not use a negative pressure wound therapy device. High-risk patients require monitoring and around-the-clock care in a hospital while using the system. Bleeding may occur if dressing materials attach to or become embedded in the wound tissue. Pieces of the dressing inside the wound may also be a source of infection, so caregivers should count the number of dressing pieces prior to removal, notes the FDA.