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According to the National Institutes of Health, more than six million cases of chronic wounds cost $20 billion each year in the United States. Diabetic ulcers, pressure sores, surgical site wounds, and traumatic injuries to high-risk patients account for most wounds that do not heal. Data from a University of Missouri School of Medicine study, however, indicates that a recently developed skin-graft harvesting system aids in chronic wound recovery and reduces care costs by accelerating the healing process.

Although a skin graft can be used to close a wound that refuses to heal, the surgical technique is often painful, time-consuming, and leaves significant donor site wounds.

The autograft harvesting system, which the Missouri team did not develop, created only the top layer of skin for much smaller, consistently sized donor grafts. The minimally invasive approach, performed in an outpatient clinic setting for 13 individuals, also resulted in much less donor site damage and little to no pain.

"Eight of the 13 high-risk patients treated with the autograft system experienced much faster healing of their chronic wounds," said Jeffrey Litt, DO, assistant professor of surgery at the MU School of Medicine, lead author of the study, and who also serves as medical director of MU Health Care’s burn and wound program. "Four of these patients fully healed in less than one month."

Litt’s team noted that the accelerated healing also resulted in no wound recurrence ― a complication associated with at-risk patient populations.

The study, "Clinical Usage and Economic Effectiveness of a Recently Developed Epidermal Autograft Harvesting System in 13 Chronic Wound Patients in a University-based Wound Center," recently was published in The Cureus Journal of Medical Science.

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