Debridement is the medical removal of dead, damaged, or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue.Removal may be surgical, mechanical, chemical, autolytic (self-digestion), and by maggot therapy.In oral hygiene and dentistry, debridement refers to the removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) that have accumulated on the teeth. Debridement in this case may be performed using ultrasonic instruments, which fracture the calculus, thereby facilitating its removal, as well as hand tools, including periodontal scalerand curettes, or through the use of chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide.In podiatry practitioners such as chiropodists, podiatrists and foot health practitioners remove conditions such as calluses and verrucas.Debridement is an important part of the healing process for burns and other serious wounds; it is also used for treating some kinds of snake and spider bites.Sometimes the boundaries of the problem tissue may not be clearly defined. For example, when excising a tumor, there may be micrometastases along the edges of the tumor that are too small to be detected, and if not removed, could cause a relapse. In such circumstances, a surgeon may opt to debride a portion of the surrounding healthy tissue – as little as possible – to ensure that the tumor is completely removed.
Why Debridement Is Done
For example, a patient has a serious wound that is infected and is not getting better with antibiotics and wound care. The wound is getting larger, the patient is getting sicker, and without better control of the infection, the patient could be in a life-threatening situation. For this patient, surgically cleaning the wound and removing some of the dead and infected tissue may mean that the body can fight the infection and heal the wound more easily. With the dead tissue removed, the healthy tissue that remains is more likely to remain healthy and not become infected.