Bioburden is an accepted barrier to chronic wound healing. Defining the significance, phenotype, clinical classification, and treatment guidelines has been historically lacking of evidence and based on paradigms that do not represent the scientific or clinical reality.
Chronic wound bioburden is typically abundant, polymicrobial, and extremely diverse. These microbes naturally adopt biofilm phenotypes, which are quite often viable but not culturable, thereby going undetected. The failures of culture-based detection have led to abandonment of routine bioburden evaluation and aggressive treatment or, worse, to assume bioburden is not a significant barrier. Predictably, treatment regimens to address biofilm phenotypes lagged behind our diagnostic tools and understanding.
Basic/Clinical Science Advances
Microbial DNA-based diagnostic tools and treatment regimens have emerged, which provide and leverage objective information, resulting in a dramatic impact on outcomes.
Relevance to Clinical Care
Modern medicine demands decisions based on objective evidence. The diagnostic and treatment protocols reviewed herein empower clinicians to practice modern medicine with regard to bioburden, with DNA level certainty.
Bioburden is a significant barrier to healing for all chronic wounds. Molecular diagnostics provide the first objective means of assessing wound bioburden. The accuracy and comprehensive data from such diagnostic methodologies provide clinicians with the ability to employ patient-specific treatment options, targeted to each patient's microbial wound census. Based on current outcomes data, the most effective therapeutic options are topical (TPL) antibiofilm agents (ABF) combined with TPL antibiotics (ABX). In specific patients, systemic ABX and selective biocides are also appropriate, but not exclusive of ABF combined with TPL ABX.