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Equine Wound Therapies: Negative Pressure and Biological Glass

By Lou Anne Epperley, DVM
For Veterinary Practice News

Posted: Nov. 20, 2012, 3:05 p.m. EDT

It’s been said that if there’s a way to get injured, a horse will find it. Thankfully, veterinary researchers continue to develop improved ways to heal hideously mutilated horse flesh.

Vacuum Assisted Closure (V.A.C.) Therapy by KCI Animal Health in San Antonio works by providing negative pressure at the wound site through a patented system. Wound edges are drawn together, infectious materials are removed and granulation tissue is promoted at the cellular level. V.A.C. Therapy has been commercially available for about two years.

Advances in horse wound therapies
RediHeal Wound Care by Avalon Medical Innovative Veterinary Surgical Products in Stillwater, Minn., is a borate-based biological glass material that imitates fibrin and traps blood platelets, forming a wound cover to support healing. Originally used in companion animals, the product is now marketed in a larger equine version. Avalon spokesman Todd P. Nelson said the company is testing a solubilized form of the material on corneal ulcers and deep fungal infections in equine eye cases.

In V.A.C. Therapy, a reticulated open-cell foam (GranuFoam) dressing is placed directly into the wound bed, then covered with a drape and proprietary pad to seal the wound and connect it to a therapy unit. Patented technology uses sophisticated software to deliver uniform negative pressure to the wound surface, according to Thomas Lawhorn, MS, business manager for KCI Animal Health.

Negative pressure contracts the foam and creates a mechanical force called “macrostrain,” which draws wound  edges together, removes exudate and infectious materials, and reduces edema, Lawhorn said.  At the cellular level, a force called “microstrain” promotes perfusion and granulation tissue formation.

V.A.C. Therapy is used for degloving injuries, severe abscesses, traumatic wounds, infected lacerations, chronic wounds, incisions at risk for dehiscence and infection, ulcers, flaps and grafts, Lawhorn said.

Dressings are typically changed every 48 to 72 hours. In a horse, the device is attached and the caregiver monitors dressing and tubing placement, along with attention to the therapy unit’s battery, he said.

Avalon Medical’s RediHeal is made of a bioceramic material that is blown into nano fibers that look much like cotton candy, Nelson said. On contact with bodily fluid, the nano fibers create a strong “angiogenic” response that increases blood circulation to the area, along with a strong antimicrobial response, he said.

“The result is a very rapid, scar-free healing response with little to no infection, and is completely antibiotic-free,” Nelson said. “It can be used in anything from soft-tissue damage to burns.”

Initial testing of the equine eye formulation is showing “fantastic results,”  he added. “This research will continue with the hope of eventually having a completely antibiotic-free, curative eye solution for the equine market.”

RediHeal has succeeded where other products have failed, according to Avalon Medical’s website, which also states: “Imagine treating wounds with cottony glass fibers that simultaneously slow bleeding, fight bacteria and other sources of infection, stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms, resist scarring, and because they are quickly absorbed by surrounding tissue, will never have to be removed in follow-up care.”

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