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Frequently Asked Questions about V.A.C.® Therapy

Note: The information on this site is intended primarily for healthcare professionals. Patients should consult their healthcare providers regarding their specific medical conditions and treatments as well as about the information provided on this site.

V.A.C. Therapy is a unique wound management system specifically designed for many types of wounds through the application of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT). Because it is a highly specialised, highly advanced wound management system, carers may not be fully aware of many aspects of V.A.C. Therapy. These can include functionality, clinical effectiveness, or other aspects.

To assist healthcare professionals, KCI has compiled the following Frequently Asked Questions. For further information, call +27 (0) 011 315 0445 and/ or send an e-mail to and/or refer to the V.A.C. Therapy Clinical Guidelines and instructions for use provided with the V.A.C. Therapy unit..

What’s the difference between V.A.C. Therapy and other NPWT devices?

There is an important difference between V.A.C. Therapy and other Negative Pressure Wound Therapy devices. V.A.C. Therapy has been proved to improve your wound healing outcomes20,5,1,3. Only the integrated V.A.C. Therapy System uses V.A.C. GranuFoam Dressings in the wound–other NPWT devices typically use gauze dressings.

Under negative pressure, the hydrophobic, reticulated, open pore structure of V.A.C. GranuFoam Dressings creates an environment that promotes faster20 and more effective5 wound healing at the cellular level compared to gauze11,13. When negative pressure is applied to the wound bed through the V.A.C. GranuFoam Dressing, mechanical forces stretch cells as tissue is pulled into the open pores of the dressing. The stretching stimulates cellular proliferation, which results in the formation of granulation tissue2,12,13.

Because gauze does not have the open pore structure of V.A.C. GranuFoam Dressings, gauze has not been shown in laboratory testing to increase cellular activity, and because of its absorptive nature, gauze may actually interfere with application of negative pressure and the wound healing process11,14.

You can learn more about how only V.A.C.® Therapy works on the cellular level  to promote wound healing.

What’s the difference between V.A.C. Therapy and wound drainage?

Draining fluids from a wound can be an important part of healing. However, it is just one of several mechanisms of action of V.A.C. Therapy. V.A.C. Therapy is indicated to provide all of the following features critical to fast20 and effective5 wound healing:

  • Creates a closed moist wound healing environment that promotes wound healing8
  • Promotes granulation tissue formation and stimulates local blood perfusion2,12,13,19
  • Prepares wound bed for closure9
  • Reduces oedema10
  • Draws wound edges together9
  • Removes material likely to cause infection6 and exudates12

How do I know if V.A.C. Therapy is appropriate for my patient’s wound?

V.A.C. Therapy is indicated for a wide range of acute and chronic wounds and is appropriate for use in all care settings. Learn more about  V.A.C.®Therapy wound types and indications , along with important contraindications and safety information or contact your local KCI representative.

V.A.C. Therapy is more expensive than other treatment options – why should I use it?

While V.A.C. Therapy may initially seem more expensive, the clinical benefits may actually help lower your overall cost of care. You can learn more about  V.A.C.® Therapy’s  demonstrated cost effectiveness.

Gauze or foam dressings. Is there a difference?

Yes, there is a clinical difference. Although the V.A.C. GranuFoam Dressing (black foam) may seem like simple surgical foam, it has been specifically engineered to deliver NPWT. There are major differences; 1) the beneficial effects of foam (with open pores, manufactured to specifications to achieve a 400-600 micron pore size) at a cellular level to promote fast20 and effective5 wound healing, 2) the hydrophobic, open pore structure of V.A.C. GranuFoam Dressings adapt to the contours of deep or irregularly shaped wounds in order to provide even distribution of pressure at the wound site.
For these reasons, gauze will not provide the benefits of NPWT proved for the V.A.C. GranuFoam Dressings, and, in some cases gauze pooling of fluids may occur and interfere with the wound healing process11,14.

What’s the difference between the black foam and the white foam?

The foam conduit is fundamental to the integrated V.A.C. Therapy system.
The black foam – V.A.C. GranuFoam Dressing –is a polyurethane (PU) , reticulated open pore foam dressing and is considered to be the most effective at stimulating granulation tissue while aiding wound contraction. It is hydrophobic (or moisture repellent), which enhances exudate removal.

The white foam – V.A.C. WhiteFoam Dressing - is a polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), dense and open pore foam dressing with a high tensile strength and less adherent properties that is ideal for use in tunnels and shallow undermining. It is hydrophilic (or moisture retaining) and is packed pre-moistened with sterile water. Its properties help to reduce the likelihood of adherence to the wound base.

Is changing the V.A.C. Dressing a clean or sterile technique?

The decision to use clean versus sterile/aseptic technique is dependent upon wound pathophysiology, doctor preference, and institutional protocol. Dressing applications under clean or sterile conditions is entirely at the preference of the doctor concerned. Disposable components of the integrated V.A.C. Therapy System, including the foam dressing (i.e., V.A.C. GranuFoam, V.A.C. GranuFoam Silver®, or V.A.C. WhiteFoam Dressing), and V.A.C. Therapy Accessories are packaged sterile and are latex-free. V.A.C. Therapy Unit canisters are packaged sterile or with sterile fluid path and are latex-free.

A clinician has the option of applying the dressings in the Operating Theatre using a sterile/aseptic technique if needed. The clinician may also use clean technique for the home setting or for pathologies that do not require sterile technique. As with all dressings that are packaged sterile, the options for use would be those in compliance with the protocols and institutional policies regarding wound care.

Can you treat more than one wound with one therapy unit at the same time?

Yes. KCI has established two methods for connecting wounds to one therapy unit: “Bridging” and “Y-connecting.”

Bridging can be performed when you have multiple wounds of similar pathology in close proximity to one another. The V.A.C. drape is placed on the intact skin between wounds, and a strip of foam is placed from one wound bed to the other over the draped skin. As long as all pieces of foam are touching each other, you can place the tubing in a central location and use one pump to distribute pressure throughout all the wounds.

Y-connecting allows you to treat multiple, non-infected wounds on the same patient simultaneously, using a Y-connector that can take two separate SensaT.R.A.C. pads. Negative pressure is evenly applied across the wounds, yet controlled by one V.A.C. Therapy unit. This may be a desirable option if the wounds are highly exudating, as you have two pathways for exudate removal, or if the wounds are quite a distance apart making bridging very difficult.

Please reference the V.A.C. Therapy Clinical Guidelines for more information. [link to PDF of V.A.C. Therapy Clinical Guidelines]

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