The effectiveness of wound dressing performance in exudate management is commonly gauged in simple, non-realistic laboratory setups, typically, where dressing specimens are submersed in vessels containing aqueous solutions, rather than by means of clinically relevant test configurations. Specifically, two key fluid–structure interaction concepts: sorptivity—the ability of wound dressings to transfer exudate, including viscous fluids, away from the wound bed by capillary action and durability—the capacity of dressings to maintain their structural integrity over time and particularly, at removal events, have not been properly addressed in existing test protocols. The present article reviews our recent published research concerning the development of clinically relevant testing methods for wound dressings, focussing on the clinical relevance of the tests as well as on the standardisation and automation of laboratory measurements of dressing performance. A second objective of this work was to compile the experimental results characterising the performance of gelling fibre dressings, which were acquired using advanced testing methods, to demonstrate differences across products that apparently belong to the same “gelling fibre” family but differ remarkably in materials, structure and composition and, thereby, in performance.
- exudate absorption and retention
- material sorptivity
- primary and secondary dressing pairs
- structural strength and durability
- testing standards