Retaining an appropriate level of moisture at the interface between a healing wound and an applied dressing is considered to be critical for effective wound healing. Failure to control exudate at this interface can result in maceration or drying out of the wound surface. The ability to control moisture balance at the wound interface is therefore a key aspect of wound dressing performance. To date it has not been possible to monitor in any effective manner the distribution of moisture within dressings or how this varies with time. A new measurement system is presented based on sensors placed at the wound/dressing interface which are capable of monitoring moisture levels in real time. The system comprises a model wound bed and sensor array complete with fluid injection path to mimic exudate flow. Eight monitoring points, situated beneath the test dressing, allow the moisture profile across the complete dressing to be measured both during and after fluid injection. The system has been used to evaluate the performance of four foam dressings, a composite hydrofibre dressing and a film dressing. Stark contrasts in the performance of the wound contact layer were found between the different wound dressing types. The composite hydrofibre dressing retained moisture at the wound interface throughout the experiments while areas of the foam dressing quickly became dry, even during constant injection of fluid. The abundance of sensors allowed a moisture map of the surface of the wound dressing to be constructed, illustrating that the moisture profile was not uniform across several of the dressings tested during absorption and evaporation of liquid. These results raise questions as to how the dressings behave on a wound in vivo and indicate the need for a similar clinical monitoring system for tracking wound moisture levels.
- hydration monitor
- wound dressings