Journal articlesBack to basics: understanding the aetiology of pressure ulcers

Back to basics: understanding the aetiology of pressure ulcers

15/09/17 | Articles, Pressure Ulcers | Trudie Young

Pressure ulcers remain a worldwide problem. As research techniques have advanced, specifically in the field of finite element computational modelling, the tissue viability community has been able to gain a deeper understanding of the aetiology of pressure ulcers. Historically, the magnitude and duration of pressure was investigated to establish a pressure duration curve, initially for animals and, subsequently, for humans. However, this was restricted in its ability to provide a definitive answer to how long and how much pressure is required for a pressure ulcer to develop. Mechanical loading of the skin gives rise to forces acting either perpendicular to the skin, i.e pressure, or parallel to the skin, i.e. shear. A combination of perpendicular and shear forces changes the shape of soft tissues. Individuals will have a unique pressure-resistant threshold that will depend on the composition of their tissues and general health and lifestyle. Debate continues in relation to the aetiological differences in the formation of superficial and deep pressure damage and into the role of microclimate in pressure ulcer formation as the author highlights in this article.