Wound Packing Strips – Uses and Applications

Medical packing strips are an important part of wound care. This article explores the types of wound packing materials available and cautions to consider.

What Are Medical Packing Strips?

Wound packing strips are long, slender, continuous pieces of a fine-mesh, gauzy material intended to fill wounds that extend into the dermal layer, also known as cavity wounds.

Why Use Wound Packing Strips?

Cavity wounds and wounds with a sinus, tunnel or undermining with an unknown endpoint require medical packing. There are several purposes behind packing a wound. The primary goal is to loosely fill empty space, but packing is also crucial in assisting the healing process. Properly applied medical packing strips can prevent premature wound closure and the formation of abscesses by promoting granulation tissue growth in the wound bed.

When to Not Use Medical Strips

•Do not use wound packing materials for fistula management.
•Do not use packing strips for wound care if the undermining, sinus tracts or tunnels of a wound are deeper or more extensive than the reach of a 6-inch applicator.

Types of Wound Packing Strips

As a versatile part of traditional wound care, packing strips are available in many forms. A secondary dressing or wound cover should always be part of the medical packing procedure.

Plain Packing Strips – Sterile packing strips without impregnation are generally made from fine-mesh, cotton gauze and are compatible with wet-to-dry wound packing. Plain packing strips are available in various pre-cut sizes.

Iodoform Packing Strips – Iodoform is an antimicrobial compound that is effective against common infectives like pseudomonas and E. coli. Iodoform-impregnated wound packing strips can support debridement and overall healing.

More Medical Packing Strip Options – Wound packing gauze is available infused with other antiseptic compounds, like polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB), silver and alginate to help manage exudate and maintain a moist environment.

Cautions for Using Any Wound Packing Material

Best medical packing practices call for extreme caution when removing or changing a dressing. Leaving a piece of wound packing material behind can cause infection and seriously impede the healing process. Therefore, use only one continuous packing strip to fill the space whenever possible. If multiple wound packing strips may be necessary to fill a cavity of more than 1 centimeter deep. In these cases, count and document the strips carefully as they are inserted, then verify the number of strips as they are removed.

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