[Editor’s note: The content in the post below has been updated and is the subject of the 2013 Report #S249.]
Wound types are diverse, from acute to chronic and traumatic to surgical to disease-driven. But the range of products and under development to address them are even more varied.
Wound Types and Their Prevalence
Surgical wounds account for the vast majority of skin injuries. There are more than 110 million surgical incisions every year, which require some wound management treatment. In approximately 80% of these cases, some form of closure product is used, such as sutures, staples, and tapes. Many require hemostasis (blood clotting) promoters, and of course the use of fabric bandages and surgical dressings is almost universal.
Traumatic wounds occur at a rate of about 1.6 million cases every year. Lacerations are a specific type of trauma wound that are generally minor in nature and require only cleansing and dressing for a shorter period. Lacerations occur frequently (approximately 20 million cases a year), as a result of cuts and grazes. They can usually be treated in the doctor’s surgery, outpatient medical center, or hospital accident and emergency department.
Burn wounds can be divided into minor burns, medically treated, and hospitalized cases. Outpatient burn wounds are often treated at home, at the physician’s office, or at outpatient clinics. As a result, a large number of these wounds never enter the formal health care system. We estimate that approximately 3.4 million patients in this category do seek outpatient care and receive some level of medical attention. These burns are mostly treated using hydrogels and advanced wound care products or, alternately, with consumer-based products for wound healing.
Medically treated burn wounds get more specialist levels of care to remove heat from the tissue, maintain hydration, and prevent infection. Advanced wound care products are used on these wounds. There are approximately 6.5 million burns like this treated medically every year.
Hospitalized burn wounds are more rare and require more advanced and expensive care. These victims require significant care, nutrition, debridement, tissue grafting and often tissue engineering where available. They also require significant nursing care and rehabilitation to mobilize new tissue, and physiotherapy to address changes in physiology.
Chronic wounds generally take longer to heal, and care required is enormously variable, as is the healing time. There is an incidence of approximately 8.5 million pressure ulcers in the world that require treatment every year. Optimally, these wounds receive advanced wound management products and appropriate care to address the underlying defect that has caused the chronic wound. Pressure ulcers are caused by compression of the skin and underlying tissues, as when a patient is bedridden and the buttocks are pressed onto the mattress; a number of advanced devices exist to reduce pressure for patients. Other skin ulcers are caused by poor circulation, even without the added complication of pressure. There are approximately 12.5 million venous ulcers, and approximately 13.5 million diabetic ulcers in the world requiring treatment.
Chronic wounds are growing in incidence due to the growing numbers of elderly individuals in the population, and the caseload is also increasing due to improved diagnosis and education. At present these factors are contributing to growth of this pool of patients faster than new technologies are reducing the incidence of wounds by healing them.
Wound management techniques are also used for a number of other conditions including amputations, carcinomas, melanomas, and other complicated skin cancers, which are all on the increase.
Worldwide Wound Prevalence by Etiology, 2009
Healing Time (Days)
Burn wounds (outpatient)
Burn wounds (medically treated)
Burn wounds (hospitalized)
Complicated skin cancer
From, “Worldwide Wound Management, 2009: Established and Emerging Products, Technologies and Markets in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Rest of World.” Report #S247.
See the 2013 Report #S249.