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Dead tissue in the form of slough and necrosis can, if present in a wound, delay healing and promote infection. Debridement describes any method by which such materials are removed and as a consequence the potential to achieve wound healing enhanced. Debridement can be achieved either through the use of wound care products or by conservative sharp debridement. This procedure will focus on the removal of devitalised tissue by Conservative Sharp Debridement (CSD).

This procedure will only be undertaken by Specialist Nurse(s) in Tissue Viability who have successfully completed a validated educational programme in wound debridement at a minimum of degree level including assessment of competency in practice. Conservative sharp debridement is an extended role for the specialist nurse.


Procedure Statement

“Debridement is an accepted principle of good wound care, especially when debris is acting as a focus for infection”

The purpose of debridement is to:

  • Determine the extent of the wound and identify any undermining
  • Remove non-viable tissue
  • Reduce the bacterial load and minimise risk of local and systemic infection
  • Allow wound drainage
  • Reduce odour
  • Promote Healing

Debridement is complete when 100% of the wound bed consists of healthy granulation tissue.

When clinically indicated conservative sharp debridement (CSD) provides a fast and effective method of wound debridement, however, nurses should be aware of the other methods of debridement available. The nurse must have the knowledge and ability to select the appropriate method for each wound and apply it correctly. Often a combination of methods will be required to achieve rapid safe debridement. CSD may form part of an on-going program of debridement.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: Sue Harris, Senior Specialist Nurse in Wound Management
Ratified by: Nursing and Midwifery Assurance Group
Date Ratified: February 2017
Date Issued: April 2017
Review Date: February 2020
Target Audience: Specialist Nurses in Tissue Viability
Contact name: Sue Harris, Senior Specialist Nurse in Wound Management


See also:

  • The Royal Marsden Hospital Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures
  • Trust Policy for Infection Control
  • Trust Policy for Aseptic Technique
  • Trust Wound Management Formulary
  • Trust Consent Policy
  • Trust Policy for Photographing Patients
  • Trust Policy for Minimal Handling