Negative Pressure Wound Therapy
(NPWT or Wound VAC Therapy)
This handout explains what Negative Pressure Wound Therapy is and how it may help
you. This treatment uses negative pressure (or suction), to help wounds heal.
ξ Increases blood flow to wound.
ξ Provides a moist wound healing environment.
ξ Draws wound edges together.
ξ Removes excess fluid and infectious materials.
ξ Reduces wound odor.
ξ Reduces need for frequent dressing changes.
How it works
ξ A special foam dressing is placed in the wound.
ξ A clear adhesive dressing seals in the foam dressing to create an airtight seal.
ξ Tubing is connected to the dressing, and to the NPWT machine.
ξ Therapy is started to preset negative pressure (suction) settings.
ξ Wound drainage collects in a disposable canister.
ξ The NPWT machine can be disconnected from outlet for short periods of time
(i.e. a walk in the hall, gone for a test). To keep the battery charged, the machine
should be plugged in as much as possible.
ξ Typically done 3 times per week, yours will be done ____________.
ξ Done by a trained doctor or nurse.
ξ Slight discomfort is common with dressing changes. Take pain medicine 30-60
minutes prior to dressing changes.
ξ Ask your doctor or nurse about showering or bathing.
Length of time to heal wound
The length of time to heal a wound is different for every patient. Factors that can affect
wound healing are:
ξ Condition, size and location of the wound
ξ Elevated blood sugars
When to call your health care provider
ξ Blood in your canister. Report this right away.
ξ Increased odor from your dressing. Slight odor is normal.
ξ Increased pain.
ξ Increased redness around the dressing.
ξ Increased warmth around dressing.
ξ Flu-like symptoms: fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, or muscle aches.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call
if you have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with
your doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical
condition. Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on
your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©
8/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the
Department of Nursing HF#6075.