A better way to heal surgical wounds

A new FDA-approved wound therapy device is reducing infection complications and helping patients carry on with daily life while healing from surgery


What starts out as a small problem after surgery can sometimes lead to an infection that can get out of control and, in many cases, prove to be deadly.

In the U.S., infections cost about 25 million dollars every year. Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of, recently sat down with Dr. John Lantis, vascular surgeon and head of the wound center at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York City to talk about a new technology that is keeping patients safer after surgery.

PICO is new type of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) that is different from traditional systems because it is pocket-sized and single use.

Previous NPWT systems used a large, bulky canister to collect the fluids that drain from surgical wounds. But the PICO system uses a palm-sized pump and a high-tech dressing that helps to manage fluids more easily.

“There is a silicone sheet that goes over the wound and then the dressing itself wicks the moisture away,” Lantis said. “The moisture is pulled away from the wound edges and brought through so it can evaporate out the top.”

Lantis said there are certain risk factors that some patients possess that makes wound healing more difficult. These are the patients that would get the most benefit from using PICO.

“One of the things we are seeing in our population unfortunately is obesity, so patients who are very fat and patients with diabetes, which is a growing concern,” he said.

Lantis added that people with vascular problems, like smokers also have a higher risk of wound complications.

“The goal of this dressing would be to use the dressing first to prevent any complications with healing,” Lantis said.

PICO was approved by the FDA in January of 2012, and Lantis said there are studies being conducted currently to find out more about the potential benefits of the device.

For more information on PICO, visit