Pros:Can help absorb liquids, can help to drain a site.
Cons:Questionable sterility once opened, rarely stays secure.
The Bottom Line: If packing strips worked half as good as they should then wound care nurses would be out of a job.
So you've never had a gaping, oozing open wound? Consider yourself lucky. I've dealt with a bed sore and an abscess and have had probably every type of gauze, packing strip, pad, tape and wound care cleaner used on both. Packing strips sort of look like a long tape worm; not the prettiest visual but seeing it in a sterile environment then seeing it when it comes out of a wound are two completely different things. When my bed sore was in full blown form the wound care nurse saw it as a challenge. She is one of the few people I knew that loved her job and saw any type of wound as something that would not get the best of her. She ended up using two containers of a packing strip – that's ten yards of material. Granted, she was using the quarter inch size because the bed sore was like a crater, deeper in the middle, shallow on the sides. Even so, it went all the way to my tailbone so it required some real work the first month.
When I had an abscess drained the beginning of last month they used packing strips to try to pull out as much fluid as possible. That is what it is designed for, that is its sole purpose. The problem with it is that it is a plain piece of material so you need to have something over it to secure it in place. On some parts of the body like a hip, leg or arm that's not a big deal but mine was on my rear so every time I went to the bathroom the packing strip would fall out or at the very least start to fall out. Nothing can really prepare you for seeing something like this hanging out of a dressing – the first time I got up to go to the bathroom I sort of froze like a deer in headlights when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw this 'tail' hanging out. Tinged slightly in pink puss, it was something that freaked me out.
If it is packed correctly it isn't the most comfortable thing; to get it seated properly you need to use the end of a swab to push it in to place. Depending on which nurse I had, they had different ways of doing it. One wrapped it around the stick end of the swab so it looked like a ribbon and then placed it inside the wound, another started at the outside and worked her way in and yet another layered it from the top to the bottom. I guess it didn't matter what orders the surgeon wrote, everyone that packed it had their own way of doing it. Personally having it done the first way was the most painful because she had to press on the outside edges to get it to open so she could press it in to place but that method worked best to pull out drainage and fluid and only came a little loose when I went to the bathroom. Since I had this used on both the bed sore and abscess I can say that it can work well if it is applied and used correctly but not everyone is going to be able to handle the pain that comes with it being pressed into a wound. I did get a nice IV pain med before dressing changes because of the depth of the abscess but it only lasted about four minutes so we worked as a team to have everything ready before the meds were on board.
The quarter inch strip is one continuous piece that is packaged in a bottle; I have seen other brands that are in one-time-use poly packs but for someone like me that would have been a complete waste. The bottles that were used on me were five yard strips so when they needed to do a change they had to cut off a piece; that means that someone has to use scissors to cut it and then place it on a sterile tray until its needed. Personally I think that once the bottle is opened the sterility is compromised. You can be in a completely germ free environment with a mask on and think that everything is great – but what happens when someone reaches for a pair of scissors from a suture kit that has been sitting out in the room for a week and used for other things. Don't you think that is going to introduce some kind of bacteria or germ in to the bottle? Maybe no one else stops to think about that but being on the receiving end, well, it irks me that everyone went to such great lengths to keep everything clean then used potentially germ infested scissors to cut the packing strip. If you are ever in this type of situation, ask them to please wipe down the blades of the scissors with an alcohol pad before using it to cut the packing strip.
When I asked about this I was sort of reprimanded by one of the doctors. "I don’t tell you how to do your job, don't tell me how to do mine". He was poking around my nether region like he was picking out a rump roast for dinner. His stance on it was simple. The iodoform that is in and on the packing strip will kill anything that is present. Well, Mr. Cranky Pants, if that is the case then why am I on three different IV antibiotics and spiking a fever? In my case the packing strip was used for two reasons – to keep the wound from closing before the fluid could drain and the swelling under it had a chance to dissipate and to help with the seepage of the fluid. Even so, I didn't like the idea of someone touching it without gloves on or using scissors that had been laying in an exposed tray and used to cut tape and gauze pieces.
Several different companies make packing strips with the iodoform additive: Kendall, Invacare and Dynarex are the three that I have had used on me for both the bed sore and the abscess. The smell from them is all the same; nothing bad or overpowering but even in a sealed bottle you can still pick up on a whiff of it. I can't say that one worked better than another because they are all basically the same product. How it works depends greatly on how it is applied, what it is packed with and if it is used as a wet or dry dressing. I do have to admit that getting a wet packing wasn't as painful but I am sure that the dry packed worked a lot better at helping to pull out fluid and drainage. If you are in a situation where you need to have a packing strip used on you make sure that everything that comes in contact with it is sterile. Chances are you are probably already fighting off an infection of some sort and the last thing you need is something introduced to a wound bed that is going to make it even worse.
^V^ ©Freak369 - 2011 ^V^
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