Vacuum-assisted closure therapy in the management of head and neck wounds

Karan Dhir, Anthony J. Reino, Jon Lipana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Objectives: The wound vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) has been used in many areas of surgery to promote healing and facilitate secondary reconstruction. Until recently, this treatment modality was overlooked in the otolaryngology literature, and the authors propose that its use should be routine in the treatment of complex head and neck wounds. Study Design: An unbiased cohort study without conflict of interest at two tertiary care centers. Materials and Methods: All patients treated by the authors presented with complex head and neck wounds from 2005 to 2007 and were subjected to wound VAC therapy. The wound VAC dressing was changed every 72 hours, and the wound etiology, wound site, history of chemotherapy and radiation, hospital duration, gender, outcome, and ancillary procedures were recorded. Results: Nineteen patients with 33 wounds were treated using VAC therapy. Eighty-four percent of these patients healed completely without the need for further surgical intervention. The mean age of this cohort was 63.2 years, with a range of 48-75 years. Males far outnumbered females in this study (17:2). Outpatient therapy commenced at discharge after an average of 11.4 days following a hospital stay ranging between 5 and 28 days. Adjunctive procedures performed during and after VAC therapy included hyperbaric oxygen treatment, dermal grafts, salivary diversion, and regional flap reconstruction. Conclusions: This study shows the applicability and versatility of vacuum-assisted wound closure in the head and neck. Based on our results the authors feel that this mode of therapy should be a routine part of the Otolaryngologist's armamentarium for the treatment of complex and refractory head and neck wounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Chronic wound care
  • Salivary leak
  • Vacuum-assisted closure
  • Wound VAC
  • Wound dehiscence


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