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Int J Low Extrem Wounds. 2012 Dec;11(4):286-92. doi: 10.1177/1534734612466871.

Coblation technology for surgical wound debridement: principle, experimental data, and technical data.

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  • 1Hôpital Lapeyronie, Montpellier, France.


Debridement is required to prepare the wound bed, essentially in removing undesired tissues observed both in acute wound after burns or trauma and in chronic wounds such as pressure ulcers, leg ulcers, and diabetic foot ulcers. Surgical debridement has been described as one of the most effective methods but can be contraindicated in the elderly, arteriopathic context, or patients under effective anticoagulation. Recently described debridement technologies are based on application of important mechanical severing forces over the wound surface using high-power hydrojets. High water flux acts as a vector for separating necrotic and sloughy tissues from the wound bed and aspirates them out of the wound immediately. Electrical powered techniques and lasers were also scarcely described. The Coblation debridement technology presented here is based on the local induction of a focused plasma field chemically deleting undesired tissues. This technique is a modification of conventional electrosurgical devices, developed in 1928 where tissue excision and coagulation of tissues were observed. Principles of plasma-mediated debridement are based on a bipolar radiofrequency energizing the molecules, thus creating a plasma field. This glow discharge plasma produces chemically active radical species from dissociation of water, breaking molecular bonds, and causing tissue dissolution. The thermal effects are a by-product, which can be modulated by modifying the electrode construction, limiting the local temperature to less than 50°C in order not to induce wound bed renecrosis. The authors describe here the principle, the first technical adaptation for wound debridement, and the potential clinical interest of the Coblation technology.

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