Debridement is the removal of dead (necrotic) tissue from a chronic wound to help it heal properly. Necrotic tissue at the wound site keeps healthy tissue from developing and increases the risk of infection. The dead tissue must be removed to create a clean, healthy wound bed that can heal effectively.
Active debridement is the manual removal of necrotic material with scalpel and forceps or with surgical scissors. Because the nerves in the dead tissue are not functioning, the debridement procedure may be relatively painless. However, topical painkillers, such as lidocaine, when applied before the procedure, can control discomfort.
Autolytic debridement removes dead tissue by encouraging the body’s ability to naturally slough off the necrotic material. This is achieved by applying hydrocolloids or hydrogels, substances that keep the wound moist and encourage dead tissue to detach naturally.