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Research Publications

Do high frequency ultrasound images support clinical skin assessment?

Porter-Armstrong AP, Adams C, Moorhead AS, Donnelly J, Nixon J, Bader DL, Lyder C, Stinson MD.

The Institute of Nursing and Health Research, School of Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey BT37 0QB, UK.

High frequency ultrasound imaging has been reported as a potential method of identifying the suspected tissue damage in patients "at risk" of pressure ulceration. The aim of this study was to explore whether ultrasound images supported the clinical skin assessment in an inpatient population through identification of subcutaneous tissue damage. Skin on the heels and/or sacral coccygeal area of fifty vascular surgery inpatients was assessed clinically by tissue viability nurses and with ultrasound pre operatively and at least every other day until discharge. Images were compared to routine clinical skin assessment outcomes. Qualitative classification of ultrasound images did not match outcomes yielded through the clinical skin assessment. Images corresponding to 16 participants were classified as subgroup 3 damage at the heels (equivalent to grade 2 pressure ulceration); clinical skin assessment rated no heels as greater than grade 1a (blanching erythema). Conversely, all images captured of the sacral coccygeal area were classified as normal; the clinical skin assessment rated two participants as grade 1b (non-blanching erythema). Ultrasound imaging is a potentially useful adjunct to the clinical skin assessment in providing information about the underlying tissue. However, further longitudinal clinical assessment is required to characterise images against actual and "staged" pressure ulceration.

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