The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Like Superman But For Feet: Ultrasonic Debridement Speeds Wound Healing

Posted by on Tuesday, March 5th, 2013


Ultrasonic debridement? Is that like using sound waves to get a divorce? Kind of, if you’re looking for a divorce from your dead or damaged tissue, or from some foreign matter lodged in a wound. And most of us who have either, are. Ultrasonic debridement uses focused sound waves to remove damaged tissue. In addition to providing the surgeon with great accuracy and control, sound waves have been shown to improve healing by stimulating the tissue, something scalpels can’t do. This is an effective tool for many different types of foot injury, from removing damaged cartilage from an athlete’s ankle to cleaning dead tissue from a diabetic’s infected toe.



So how does ultrasonic debridement work, exactly? The surgical instrument is attached to a small, portable device that plugs into a wall outlet. The device converts an electrical signal into a mechanical vibration at a specific frequency. The debridement (or the removal of tissue) is actually caused by cavitation, a process that causes the formation of a cavity in a tissue. Think of it like this: imagine aiming a high-powered stream of air through a straw at the surface of a glass of water. That air will form a cavity in the water’s surface, pushing the water molecules aside. High-powered sound waves can do the same thing with the body’s tissue. And the same sound waves that separate damaged tissue from healthy tissue, stimulate the body’s own healing process.



Another benefit of ultrasonic debridement: built-in irrigation. When a surgeon is operating on a body part, he has to use a sterile solution to rinse away debris or fill a cavity for better visibility. An ultrasonic debridement tool can also irrigate, shooting both sound waves and a sterile solution from the same surgical tip. This means the surgeon can irrigate exactly where he wants to exactly when he wants to, without having to remove his scalpel or switch instruments.



While traditional surgery is a wonderful thing (without it we wouldn’t have many life-saving medical procedures) it isn’t always the best course of action for all injuries. New surgical instruments like arthroscopes, EXSW machines, and ultrasonic cutting devices have transformed surgery for the better. Ultrasonic debridement has been shown to accelerate wound healing, reduce infection, reduce wound drainage, and reduce wound odor. In many cases your podiatrist can perform this procedure in his office with minimal local anesthesia. Recovery times are often much faster than with traditional methods. If you have a chronic injury involving scar tissue, have a difficult diabetes-related foot wound, or otherwise think you might be a candidate for ultrasonic debridement, please contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.