The inclusion of a department dealing with veterinary wound management is a new departure for Wounds, and it does give me great pleasure to be involved with such an exciting innovation. Interest and research into the management of soft tissue injuries in animal species other than man has, until recently, been very much the Cinderella section of wound management. This situation is improving rapidly due to the realization by many members of the veterinary profession that historically too many assumptions have been made about the similarities between the wound healing processes of man and the wound healing processes of animals. This realization has led to ongoing investigations into the precise mechanisms of healing of both large and small animals, as well as the effects on these healing processes of some materials used routinely to manage human wounds. The results of some of these investigations[2–4] illustrate that the use of modern interactive and bioactive materials does lead to improved healing rates and reduced morbidity in many animal patients when compared to those observed when the more traditional materials, such as absorbent cotton and gauze, have been applied. There is also a consequent decrease in the time involvement of veterinary surgeons who have traditionally not viewed the management of veterinary wounds as anything other than a necessary chore.
As with other areas of wound management, the progress being made with research is a reflection of the advances in techniques, models, and analytical methods, which continuously open new avenues of investigation. However, although many researchers, as in this paper, are applying some of the technical advances made in molecular and cell biology to the questions of wound repair, it is debatable whether research into the whole field of tissue repair is taking full advantage of these developing technologies.
The following paper by Cochrane, et al., demonstrates under experimental conditions the variability in contractile fibroblast activity of cells taken from different areas of the horse. The high contractile ability of the cells from the limb as demonstrated in vitro within the experimental system do not match those of observed wound contraction in the in-vivo sitiuation, thereby confirming that environmental conditions, such as circulation efficiency within the limb, play a significant part in wound healing of indolent equine ulcers. This reduction in contraction must lead to a decrease in the rate of wound healing, which could lead to the production of exuberant granulation tissue (proud flesh).
If it were possible to identify those factors in the limb that would allow the fibroblasts to fulfil their illustrated contractile potential then the expectation would be that the problem of hypergranulation in the horse would be diminished. Therefore, this research has identified the need for further in-vivo experimentation to be undertaken to determine those factors within the limb environment that are essential to allow the in-vivo contractile fibroblast activity to correspond to that observed in vitro.
1. Swaim SF, Henderson RA. Small Animal Wound Management, Second Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lea & Febiger, 1997:143.
2. Cockbill SME, Turner TD. Management of veterinary wounds. Veterinary Record 1995;136:362–5.
3. Cockbill SME, Hollinshead CM, Turner TD. Veterinary wound management using contemporary surgical dressings. In: Cherry G, Gottrup F, Lawrence JC (eds). Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Advances in Wound Management. London: Macmillan Magazines Ltd., 1996:115–8.
4. Cockbill SME. Evaluation in vivo and in vitro of the performance of interactive dressings in the management of animal soft tissue injuries. Veterinary Dermatol 1998;9(2):87–98.