Wound measurement is an essential part of wound management. Without techniques firstly to assess the size and extent of a wound and then to measure its progress, it is difficult to formulate an effective wound management strategy.
Measuring & Calculating Wounds
A number of techniques exist for the measurement of wounds, and new approaches are being devised all the time.
In clinical practice, one of the most frequently used methods of measurement is determining length and width using a disposable ruler. Length and width are sometimes multiplied together to give a value for the surface area1, although this tends to overestimate the size of the wound.2 The second most popular method involves calculating the surface area using a tracing onto an acetate grid with predetermined size squares.1
Although these manual techniques still predominate in everyday clinical practice, electronic techniques are also gaining in popularity. For example, the Visitrak system from Smith & Nephew allows the wound edge to be traced, and the wound area to be calculated automatically for improved accuracy.
Using Photography for Wound Measurement
Photography can also be used to calculate wound area. The borders of the wound are traced from a digital photograph using a mouse or digital pen on a digital tablet. A ruler, or other accurate scale, photographed near the wound allows the user to calibrate the software to enable it to judge distance. An advantage of photography is that it does not require contact with the wound, and it provides a permanent record of not only wound size but also appearance.3
A recent comparison of different techniques available for wound measurement showed that the photographic method is an accurate alternative to Visitrak for measuring wound area, with no statistical difference in wound area measurement. The photographic method is also more appropriate for clean and uncontaminated wounds, as contact with the wound bed is avoided.3
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- NursingTimes.net. How can I accurately measure a wound and how often should I do this. 31 January, 2011. Available from http://www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice/clinical-zones/wound-care/how-can-i-accurately-measure-a-wound-and-how-often-should-i-do-this/5024851.article.
- Langemo D et al. Measuring Wound Length, Width, and Area: Which Technique? Advances in Skin & Wound Care: The Journal for Prevention and Healing 2008; 21(1):42-45.
- Chang AC et al. A Comparison of Wound Area Measurement Techniques: Visitrak Versus Photography. ePlasty 2011; 11:e18.