Does exudate viscosity effect the absorption rate of exudate into wound dressings?

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    Objective Exudate is a vital component of healing wounds and there are differences between acute exudate and chronic exudate, with the latter being described as highly toxic to the healing environment. Wound exudate assessment is not easy for clinicians and attempts to standardise exudate quantification are emerging. It is highlighted here that the viscosity of wound fluid / exudate is equally as important as the quantity of fluid produced. Wound fluid viscosity increases when there is more protein present in it and as wound dressings exhibit various fluid handling mechanisms, it is important to understand how this interaction with the different exudate types, may alter the wound / dressing interface. This knowledge will ensure that a beneficial healing wound environment remains and not one which leaves harmful wound exudate on the wound surface. This study is designed to evaluate if the viscosity of exudate has an effect on the absorption time into 4 different families of wound dressings. Method This study evaluated the viscosities of two solutions and their effect on the absorption times of 4 different dressing types. The viscosities of the solutions were calculated using Oswald Viscometers then 2 ml of these solutions was applied to 4 different dressing types and repeated 10 times for each dressing as outlined in BS EN 13726-1:2002E 1. The parameters for temperature and frequency were also followed, and the absorption times recorded. A 2 way repeated measures ANOVA was conducted to examine if exudate viscosity and dressing type, or their interaction had an effect on the absorption time. Results The results indicate that the Viscosity of the solution alone has a significant effect on the absorption time (p<0.01) and that the combined effect of dressing type and viscosity had an effect on absorption, (p< 0.01). The results also show that the type of dressing alone has a significant effect on the absorption time (p<0.01). When looking at the between subject effects of the dressings (4 different types) the only non-significant finding was between 2 dressings, the super absorbent and the Moderate (foam) absorbing dressing (p=0.097). All other dressings had a between subject effect of (p<0.01). Conclusion This study demonstrated that there is a significant difference in absorption times when investigating dressing types and viscosity of the test solution. The higher the viscosity of the fluid the longer it takes for the fluid to be absorbed into all dressing types tested. The results show that this delay is not simply determined by the dressing or by the viscosity of the fluid alone, but it is likely to be a combination of the mode of action of the dressing, pore size and particulate composition of the exudate which all require further investigation.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Wound Care
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Sep 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in [JournalTitle], copyright © MA Healthcare, after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see [journal link].


    • Wound Fluid
    • Exudate Viscosity
    • Dressing Absorbency
    • Wounds
    • Wettability


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