The biomechanical efficacy of dressings in preventing heel ulcers

Ayelet Levy, Mor Ben Or Frank, Amit Gefen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The heels are the most common site for facility-acquired pressure ulcers (PUs), and are also the most susceptible location for deep tissue injuries. The use of multilayer prophylactic dressings to prevent heel PUs is a relatively new prevention concept, generally aimed at minimizing the risk for heel ulcers (HUs) through mechanical cushioning and reduction of friction at the dressing-support interface. We used 9 finite element model variants of the posterior heel in order to evaluate the biomechanical performance of a multilayer dressing in prevention of HUs during supine lying. We compared volumetric exposures of the loaded soft tissues to effective and maximal shear strains, as well as peak stresses in the Achilles tendon, without any dressing and with a single-layer or a multilayer dressing (Mepilex® Border Heel-type), on supports with different stiffnesses. The use of the multilayer dressing consistently and considerably reduced soft tissue exposures to elevated strains at the posterior heel, on all of the tested support surfaces and when loaded with either pure compression or combined compression and shear. The aforementioned multilayer design showed (i) clear benefit over a single-layer dressing in terms of dissipating tissue strains, by promoting internal shear in the dressing which diverts loads from tissues; (ii) a protective effect that was consistent on supports with different stiffnesses. Recent randomized controlled trials confirmed the efficacy of the simulated multilayer dressing, and so, taken together with this modeling work, the use of a prophylactic multilayer dressing indicates a great promise in taking this route for prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Tissue Viability
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015

Keywords

  • Computational modeling
  • Deep tissue injury
  • Finite element analysis
  • Heel pressure ulcers
  • Prophylactic dressings

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