What is Debridement?

Debridement is the procedure of eliminating non-living (necrotic) tissue from wounds.

Effects of Debridement

With the use of debridement, the healing of pressure ulcers, burns and other wounds is hastened.

Candidates for Debridement

Debridement may not be necessary for every wound. Occasionally, it is better to set aside a hardened crust of dead tissue, called an eschar, than to get rid of it and create an open wound, especially if the crust is stable and the wound is not inflamed.

Several ulcers and other wounds come up in places where blood flow is damaged. For instance, foot ulcers that can be associated with diabetes mellitus. In these cases, the physician or nurse may choose not to debride the wound for the reason that blood flow may be inadequate for proper healing.

Your Consultation

Before debridement, the physician will get the patient’s medical history, focusing on factors that might complicate healing, such as medications being taken, as well as smoking. The physician will also record the origin of the wound and the means that it has been treated.

The Debridement Procedure

To begin with, the physician or nurse will measure the necessity for debridement. This will be done by examining the wound, usually by inserting a gloved finger into the wound to assess the depth of dead tissue and evaluate whether it is situated near other organs, bone or significant body features. The area may be flushed with a saline solution before debridement and a topical anesthetic gel or injection may be applied if surgical or mechanical debridement is performed.

During debridement, dead tissue is taken away so that the outstanding living tissue can effectively heal. Dead tissue exposed to the air will develop a hard black crust, called an eschar. Deeper tissue will remain moist and may look white, or yellow and soft or flimsy.


After performing surgical debridement, the wound will be packed with a dry dressing for a day to keep bleeding under control. Subsequently, moist dressings are applied to speed up wound healing. Moist dressings are also utilized after mechanical, chemical and autolytic debridement. There are several factors that contribute to wound healing and these usually take considerable time.


It is likely that underlying tendons, blood vessels or other structures will be impaired throughout the examination of the wound and during surgical debridement. Surface bacteria may also cultivate deeper into the body, causing infection. The need to repeat debridement may also be possible.


What are the different types of debridement?

The various kinds of wound debridement are surgical, autolytic, enzymatic and mechanical.

What is the purpose of a debridement?

Debridement is employed to cleanse dead and contaminated material from a wound to assist in healing, enhance the tissue’s ability to defend against infection, and reduce inflammation. The procedure is most frequently performed to eliminating tissue contaminated by bacteria, foreign tissue, dead cells or a crust. It is also done to create a neat wound edge to diminish scarring, as well as support in healing very serious burns or pressure sores (decubitus ulcers).

What is surgical debridement?

In surgical debridement, the skin adjacent to the wound is cleansed and disinfected, and the wound is viewed with a metal instrument to verify its depth and search for any foreign matter. The doctor cuts away dead tissue and then washes out any lingering free tissue. The resulting edge is smooth and typically runs from one end of the wound to the other. In several cases, transplanted skin may be grafted into place. Occasionally, cutting away the entire contaminated wound may be the most successful treatment. The doctor may put drops of dye into the wound to facilitate in isolating wound tissue. The tissue that turns color is taken out, resulting in a new clean, surgical wound.

What is chemical debridement?

In chemical debridement, the doctor puts on debriding medication to the wound and covers it with a dressing.

What is mechanical debridement?

In mechanical debridement, a wet dressing is placed on the wound. As this dressing dries, it absorbs wound material. And when the dressing is remoistened and taken out, some of the tissue comes with it. This process is lengthy and may take away healthy or healing tissue along with dead cells. Patients frequently find this kind of mechanical debridement painful. The use of whirlpool baths is also common in mechanical debridement.

What is autolytic debridement?

Dressings that keep wound fluids (hydrocolloid, hydrogel, and transparent film) can assist the body’s natural abilities to clean the wound. This form of dressing is often utilized to heal pressure sores.