Background: Patients who are immobile endure prolonged bodyweight-related compressive, tensional and shear loads at their body-support contact areas which over time, may lead to the onset of pressure ulcers (PUs). Approximately third of the common sacral PUs are severe and classified as category 3 or 4. If a PU has occurred, off-loading is the basic, commonly accepted clinical intervention, however, in many situations, complete off-loading of sacral PUs is not possible. Minimizing the exposure of wounds and their surroundings to elevated mechanical loads is crucial for healing.
Methods: In this study, we aimed to investigate the biomechanical effects of the structural and mechanical properties of different treatment dressings on stresses in soft tissues surrounding a non-offloaded sacral PU in a supine patient. Using a novel three-dimensional anatomically-realistic finite element (FE) modeling framework we have compared performances of 3 dressing designs: (i) The Mepilex® Border Sacrum (MBS) multilayer anisotropic silicone foam dressing (Mölnlycke Health Care), (ii) An isotropic stiff dressing, and (iii) An isotropic flexible dressing.
Results & Conclusion: Using our newly developed protective efficacy index (PEI) and aggravation index (AI) for assessing prophylactic and treatment dressings, we identified the anisotropic stiffness feature of the MBS dressing as the key design element providing effective redistribution of bodyweight and frictional loads for tissues at the superficial and deep tissues surrounding an existing wound.