Nutrition and Chronic Wounds

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Significance: Nutrition is one of the most basic of medical issues and is often ignored as a problem in the management of our chronic wound patients. Unfortunately, malnutrition is widespread in our geriatric patients even in nursing homes in developed countries. Attention to basic nutrition and providing appropriate supplements may assist in the healing of our chronic wounds.

Recent Advances: Recent research has revealed the epidemiology of malnutrition in developed countries, the similarities to malnutrition in developing countries, and some of the physiologic and sociologic causes for this problem. More information is now available on the biochemical effects of nutrient deficiency and supplementation with macronutrients and micronutrients. In some cases, administration of isolated nutrients beyond recommended amounts for healthy individuals may have a pharmacologic effect to help wounds heal.

Critical Issues: Much of the knowledge of the nutritional support of chronic wounds is based on information that has been obtained from trauma management. Due to the demographic differences of the patients and differences in the physiology of acute and chronic wounds, it is not logical to assume that all aspects of nutritional support are identical in these patient groups. Before providing specific nutritional supplements, appropriate assessments of patient general nutritional status and the reasons for malnutrition must be obtained or specific nutrient supplementation will not be utilized.

Future Directions: Future research must concentrate on the biochemical and physiologic differences of the acute and chronic wounds and the interaction with specific supplements, such as antioxidants, vitamin A, and vitamin D.