For some people, routine surgical procedures can be anything but routine, and life-saving surgeries can result in serious life-threatening complications. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a group of disorders that affect the connective tissues in the body. For people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, any wound, including surgical wounds, can result in significant complications. Researchers believe that as many as 1 in 2,500 may have a genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, although many do not know it until they've experienced difficulty healing.
In fact, one 17-year-old patient was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome after her wounds from a routine surgery failed to heal. If your wounds do not heal, it's important to get evaluated for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Here's what you need to know.
In Ehlers-Danlos, the body's cells produce faulty collagen. Collagen is similar to glue and is what binds cells together and keeps cells in an appropriate shape. In regards to wounds, the faulty collagen does not allow the body to heal properly due to the ineffectiveness of the glue-like quality that their collagen should have.
One comorbid condition that many Ehlers-Danlos patients have is joint hypermobility. Think about when you have a balloon filled with water and how it bounces back when it is pushed on. Now think how that balloon would react if it were filled with a thick gel. Without the cells ability to bounce back, tissue surrounding the wound also becomes a bit damaged, which further complicates the wound's ability to repair. The combination of these issues often results in wound dehiscence.
Wound care for patients with Ehlers-Danlos is different from typical wound care. With this condition, skin and tissue are not held together appropriately by sutures, which causes the wounds to open further and allow infection to set it. Collagen from an external source may help improve the wound. BSE (bioengineered skin equivalent) may be necessary to help improve the tissue's ability to heal. Antibiotics must be used for treatment and prevention of infections.
If you do believe that you have Ehlers-Danlos, it is crucial that you get diagnosed, especially before you have any other surgical procedures. The reason for this is because surgeons treat patients with Ehlers-Danlos differently than they treat other patients. For example, they prefer to use glue and Steri-Strips to close up surgical wounds as opposed to sutures and staples. A geneticist is the medical professional you will need to see to be tested and evaluated for Ehlers-Danlos since it is a genetic condition.
For more information, contact your local wound care services.