Negative Pressure Wound Therapy With and Without Instillation in Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections

Hussain Afzal, Erin Dawson, Ricardo Fonseca, Melissa Canas, Leonardo Diaz, Alejandro De Filippis, John Mazuski, Kelly M. Bochicchio, Grant V. Bochicchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTIs) are rare but deadly infections that require early and often extensive surgical debridement. After debridement, patients frequently have substantial morbidity because of large, open wounds. Hypothesis: Negative pressure wound therapy with instillation (NPWTi) results in higher wound closure rates compared with traditional negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) or wet to dry dressings (moist wound care dressing). Patients and Methods: A prospectively maintained Acute and Critical Care Surgery database spanning 2008-2018 was queried for patients with a diagnosis of necrotizing fasciitis, Fournier gangrene, or gas gangrene. Data were collected on patient comorbidities, operative management, and clinical outcomes. Patients were stratified by use of moist wound care dressing, traditional NPWT, or NPWTi. Data were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA), χ2, and logistic regression. Results: During the 10-year study period, patients were treated for NSTI; 173 were managed with moist wound care dressing, 150 with NPWT, and 48 with NPWTi. Patients were similar in terms of demographics, body mass index (BMI), diabetes mellitus, and smoking rates. Overall, complication rates were not substantially different, but mortality was higher in the moist wound care dressing group (16.2% vs. 10.7% NPWT vs. 2.1% NPWTi; p = 0.02). In the moist wound care dressing group, 81.5% of patients had an open wound at discharge compared with 52.7% of the NPWT group and only 14.6% of the NPWTi group (p < 0.001). On multivariable regression, NPWTi was associated with closure rates five times higher than the NPWT group (odds ratio [OR], 5.28; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.40-11.61; p < 0.001) after controlling for smoking status, intravenous drug use, number of operations, and involvement of the most common region of the body. Conclusions: Negative pressure wound therapy with instillation is associated with higher rates of wound closure without increasing complication rates in patients with NSTI compared with traditional NPWT or moist wound care dressing. Although prospective studies are needed, this indicates the potential to improve patient quality of life through reduced pain and outpatient home health needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-205
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical infections
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2024


  • necrotizing soft tissue infection
  • negative pressure wound therapy
  • negative pressure wound therapy with instillation


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