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Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2012 Jun;32(3):192-7.

Vacuum-assisted closure therapy in reconstructive surgery.

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  • 1Maxillofacial Unit, Piemonte Orientale University, Novara, Italy.


In 1997, supported by experimental work, Argenta published a clinical report describing a variety of complicated wounds whose treatment responded successfully to negative pressure dressings using a vacuum-assisted closure system (VAC) (Kinetic Concepts Inc., San Antonio, TX). This system has been successfully used in the fields of orthopaedics and traumatology, general surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery and gynaecology/obstetrics for a large variety of complicated wounds located in several regions, particularly in the torso and extremities. To the best of our knowledge, the use of the VAC therapy in treating free flaps surgical wounds has not been discussed in the literature. Since 2009 at the Novara Major Hospital, we have been using the VAC therapy in selected cases for difficult and complicated wounds of the maxillofacial region. The purpose of this study is to describe and discuss three cases undergoing VAC therapy followed by loco-regional flaps in the management of exposed bone after fibular free flap. The advantages and disadvantages of VAC therapy in treating complicated wounds have been reported by several studies; compared with conventional wet-to-dry dressings, this system eliminates interstitial oedema, exudates and debrides while increasing blood perfusion leading to a more rapid promotion of wound healing with less bacterial loading. Although surgical debridement, wet-to-dry dressing changes and antibiotic treatment are the mainstay in managing maxillofacial wounds, VAC therapy can be used to obtain primary closure or to prepare the wound bed until definitive reconstruction is carried out. In our opinion, the VAC technique is an innovative therapy, and at our institution represents the standard of care for the majority of complicated wounds.


Fibular free flap; Maxillofacial wound; Subatmospheric pressure; VAC therapy

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