Many cell based approaches to small animal wound care tend to revolve around autologous grafting. Varying thicknesses of skin grafts are often seen at the solution for acute and chronic injuries where the site simply does not have available tissue to cover the exposed wound. These treatments aim to provide "deficient tissues with 'replacement' cell populations that can hopefully fulfill the originally intended structure and function of selected tissues." However, these approaches consistently fall behind the following significant obstacles that often limit their availability and use in veterinary medicine:
- The need for autologous cells
- The shortened "shelf-life" of harvested tissue
- The extreme costs
Extracellular matrix scaffolds, like BioSIS, which is derived from porcine small intestinal submucosa, have been evaluated as dermal replacements for veterinary full thickness wounds and partial-thickness skin wounds. Studies have shown that once placed on a wound, biological scaffolds, such as BioSIS, provide a protective barrier that prevents dehydration along with antimicrobial properties. This first line of defense against infection is important during the treatment of wounds. The matrix not only provides an antimicrobial protective barrier, it also attracts keratinocytes, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and other cell types. Upon invasion, these cells begin to lay down their own collagen extracellular matrix environment, and thus begin to regenerate the wound. Learn more here about the mechanism of healing here.
These bioscaffolds have significant benefit in situations where natural wound healing either results in unacceptable scar tissue formations or shows a complete inability to heal (i.e. degloving injuries or musculotendinous injury with severe loss of tissue). Potentially the most usefull application within veterinary wound care is following traumatic injury, in which large portions of skin are absent or removed.
The cost effective nature of using biological scaffolds in veterinary medicine, enable practitioners to provide the very best in care for their patients. These extracellular matrices provide a mechanism for accelerated wound closure, which minimizes contracture. In addition, the attraction of cells provide an environment for rapid and complete epithelialization in wounds.
In conclusion, the next time you're faced with a difficult wound, mass removal, degloving injury, or dermal wound to a highly flexible portion of the body, try seeking a biological scaffold for repair. Unlike skin grafts, and other treatments, biological scaffolding is fast acting, and inexpensive. The management of wounds can be easy when you have the proper tools.