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back to articles on "Wounds and Healing"
more articles by Foster, Cora , MD  |  author's bio

When Wounds Won’t Heal

Special to the Journal By Cora Foster, MD


Wounds need sufficient blood circulation and a healthy immune system in order to heal properly. People with poor circulation due to vascular disease, diabetes, or paralysis get wounds, ulcers, and sores more easily than the general population and they often take much longer to heal. The healing process for even relatively small wounds can take weeks or months, which increases the risk of developing serious complications.


In the new Cayuga Center for Wound Healing at Cayuga Medical Center, the medical field’s current “best practices” are utilized to promote healing for people with problem wounds that are large or that have not followed usual healing expectations. In the wound center, a multidisciplinary care team addresses all of the contributing factors, including issues like underlying infections, nutritional deficiencies, living conditions, and co-morbidities that can impede healing, such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Additionally, for especially challenging wounds, the wound center now offers state-of-the-art hyperbaric oxygen therapy.


What are the most common chronic problems treated in the wound center?


The most common wounds we treat are problematic diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, and venous stasis ulcers 0n the legs due to poor circulation. We also treat serious infections from necrotizing (flesh-eating) bacteria, osteomyelitis (bone infections), and skin graphs that are failing to heal properly.


What happens in the wound clinic?


We ask you about your medical history, perform a physical exam, and do a full assessment of your wound, along with a careful analysis of your nutrition, mobility status, current medications, allergies, and environment. We use a systematic, proven approach to healing for each specific type of wound we treat. A multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, therapists and technicians who are trained in wound care will follow your progress closely. By following evidence-based national treatment protocols, we can ensure a high rate of success in healing problem wounds.


What if I still have trouble healing?


The Cayuga Center for Wound Healing now offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to promote healing for patients with wounds that have not responded to other therapies. HBOT, which is administered in a clear-sided chamber, delivers 100 percent oxygen to your body at two to two-and-a-half times the pressure at sea level. Enabling your body to absorb a concentrated level of oxygen under pressure significantly promotes healing at the cellular level. 


What can I expect during HBOT?


HBOT typically lasts about two hours per session and is performed on a daily basis for a prescribed number of treatments, depending on your particular problem. You will be asked to lie on a small bed inside the chamber and may watch television or listen to music, as you please. HBOT is administered under the supervision of experienced doctors and you will be under the watchful eye of a registered nurse or technician for the entire HBOT session.


If you or someone you know is suffering from a wound that won’t heal, talk to your doctor and ask for a referral, or call us directly at (phone number). The staff at the Cayuga Center for Wound Healing is providing wound therapy at a higher level. We are here to help you heal.


Dr. Foster is board certified in general surgery and serves as the medical director of the Cayuga Center for Wound Healing at Cayuga Medical Center, where she is a member of the medical staff. She practices surgery at Surgical Associates of Ithaca and can be reached there at (607) 273-3161.





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