The physician has recommended Vacuum Assisted Closure (V.A.C.) Therapy for wound or incisional healing. Vacuum Assisted Closure Therapy is also called Negative Pressure Wound Therapy or Wound Vac Therapy. You/your child will have a special foam dressing placed over the wound which will be attached by a tube to a machine which uses vacuum type suction (negative pressure) to heal the wound. Negative pressure draws the wound edges together, removes fluid and infectious materials from the wound, and promotes granulation tissue formation (the tissue in healing wounds). Wound V.A.C. Therapy is comfortable and helps the wound heal quicker than other types of wound care dressings.
The Wound V.A.C. machine and its supplies are delivered in a large box. Please, open the box and gather the following supplies for each dressing change:
- One foam dressing kit
- One canister
- Wound V.A.C. machine
The Wound V.A.C. is delivered fully charged. You are encouraged to plug it in at night, and anytime you/your child is sitting. This assures the battery will be fully charged when you/your child would like to go out.
Your/you child(s) Wound V.A.C. will be set at ______ mmHg to continuous suction. This setting may be changed by your physician or the SWOT (Skin Wound Ostomy Team) as deemed necessary.
After the Wound V.A.C. dressing is placed and the suction is turned on, the dressing should not be painful. If the patient has significant wound pain when the wound vac is on, notify the patient’s physician. Other reasons to call your/your child’s physician are:
- Bright red blood in the cannister (a large amount is an emergency and you/your child should go to the nearest emergency room)
- Fever over 101
- Feeling weak, irritable, or dizzy
- Itching or rash around the wound
- Increasing warmth or redness of the skin around the wound
- Increasing or foul odor to wound drainage
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do if the wound vac is alarming “leak detected”?
If the Wound V.A.C. alarms “leak”, or if the dressing is not holding suction, check the dressing and make sure the tubing is securely connected and the canister is firmly in place. Reinforce the dressings as needed to keep it secure. If this does not resolve the problem, try changing the canister. If the problem persists, call the physician or SWOT for further directions.
Never leave the foam in the wound longer than two hours with the wound vac turned off or not working properly. If you are unable to find the leak or if the Wound V.A.C. Machine or dressing is malfunctioning or turned off for more than two hours the whole wound vac and all the dressings in the wound bed need to be removed. The wound must be thoroughly washed and a new dressing place.
If the Wound V.A.C. foam is removed, because it has a leak or is malfunctioning, what dressing shall be placed in the wound?
Unless otherwise directed, gauze dampened with normal saline and place this in the wound bed. Call your physician and/or SWOT to schedule replacement of the Wound V.A.C.
What if there is no drainage in the cannister, is the Wound V.A.C. still working?
A small amount of drainage is expected in the cannister. If the cannister fills in 1‐2 days, notify your physician. If there is no drainage from the wound, and the Wound V.A.C is turned on the dressing is compressed. The Wound V.A.C. is working to pull the wound edges together and increase the rate of healing.
What is the alternative to Wound V.A.C. Therapy?
Your physician chose Wound V.A.C. Therapy for you/your child, because they believe it is the fastest method to get the incision/wound to heal. If this type of therapy is not working for you/your child, discuss this with your physician or a SWOT team member. They will provide you with alternative dressing options.
For questions regarding the Wound V.A.C. you may contact:
- CHOC Skin Wound Ostomy Team (SWOT) at 714‐509‐9331
- KCI (available 24/7) @ 1‐800‐275‐4524
- Your physician’s office