Posts Tagged ‘Stage IV’

I Stage, II Stage, III Stage , IV…. Making Pressure Ulcer Staging a Little Easier

Friday, June 6th, 2014

There has to be a way to get everyone on the same page.  You would think that over the last 6-7 years since the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) had released the updated staging guidelines we would have gotten better at this.  Not necessarily the case. blog
Lets try to make pressure ulcer staging as simple as possible.  We will take out the all the extra verbiage; you can read that later on.  We will break staging down to some user-friendly terms.  Now remember, we are talking about pressure ulcers, so all of these skin injuries pressure had to be present, sure – friction and shearing can contribute, but pressure must be present. They are usually located over a bony prominence but we know they don’t have to be; they will be located anywhere the skin has had unrelieved pressure.  If they are related to a device they will take on the shape of the device that has caused the injury to the skin.

Stage I.  This is an area of non-blanchable area of erythema (redness) of intact skin.  That’s what it is. Period.  Intact red skin.  Non-blanchable is when we push on the skin it stays red; it doesn’t turn white or blanch.  So, intact, non-blanchable area of erythema, a stage I pressure ulcer.

Stage II.  This is a superficial or shallow open area.  We say it is pink, partial and painful.  The damage is into the dermis here so the tissue we see will always be smooth pink/dark pink, not granulation tissue.  Never will we see any necrotic tissue here; your wound won’t have yellow, black brown colors in it.  It also may be an intact serum (clear fluid) blister. So there you have it; a stage II is a superficial open area with NO necrotic tissue or it can be an intact or ruptured serum filled blister.

Stage III. This stage is easy.  Damage is now into the subcutaneous tissue, but not through the subcutaneous layer.  So this is the start of full thickness tissue injury.  Now here is where we can start see slough, eschar, and granulation tissue in the wound bed.  Tunneling and undermining may also be present in the full thickness pressure ulcer.  In the stage III pressure ulcer we may see healthy subcutaneous tissue, necrotic tissue or granulation tissue.  What we WON’T see in the stage III is muscle, tendon, ligament or bone, ever.

Stage IV.  This is full thickness tissue damage where we now see muscle, tendon, ligament, or bone in the wound bed.  The definition also states “palpable” so if we can feel tendon or bone here, we would stage it as a stage IV.   Cartilage in the wound bed would be included in the stage IV pressure ulcer.  We can have granulation tissue or necrotic tissue present in the wound bed as well.  Undermining and tunneling may be present in a stage IV, but what I MUST see or feel are those underlying structures – muscle, tendon, ligament and / or bone present to say it’s a “stage IV”.

Unstageable pressure ulcer is a stage we use to classify the pressure ulcer that has enough necrotic tissue present to make the clinician uncertain whether the pressure ulcer is a stage III or stage IV.  So until enough necrotic tissue can be removed we place it in the “unstageable” category.  Once that necrotic tissue is removed and we can evaluate the actual level of tissue destruction in the wound bed, that is when we will stage it and it will either be a stage III or a stage IV.

Suspected Deep Tissue Injury (SDTI).  To be a SDTI the skin must be intact, it must be purple or maroon in color or an INTACT BLOOD filled blister.  Once this intact SDTI pressure ulcer opens up, we would then reclassify it based on our assessment or tissue type in the wound bed.

We need to use the staging definitions set out by the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) correctly, and all clinicians who assess skin need to have a good understanding of these definitions in order to properly stage pressure ulcers.  What was discussed about above is just a summary, there is more reading we need to do, but this will give us a good place to start with the staging.  We need to start staging consistently across the healthcare continuum; it really just comes down to good wound assessment skills, knowing the tissue type that lies before your eyes and identifying the level of tissue destruction and applying them to the NPUAP staging definitions. Lets get this right!

Pressure Ulcer Stages (A Review)

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

The following is taken from the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel’s website. As wound care certified professionals, are we all consistently documenting and defining the pressure ulcers correctly. We have included an excerpt from NPUAP’s site below.

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel has defined the definition of a pressure ulcer and the stages of pressure ulcers, including the original 4 stages and adding 2 stages on deep tissue injury and unstageable pressure ulcers. This work is the culmination of over 5 years of work beginning with the identification of deep tissue injury in 2001.

Pressure Ulcer Definition
A pressure ulcer is localized injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear and/or friction. A number of contributing or confounding factors are also associated with pressure ulcers; the significance of these factors is yet to be elucidated.

Pressure Ulcer Stages

Suspected Deep Tissue Injury:

Purple or maroon localized area of discolored intact skin or blood-filled blister due to damage of underlying soft tissue from pressure and/or shear. The area may be preceded by tissue that is painful, firm, mushy, boggy, warmer or cooler as compared to adjacent tissue.

Further description:
Deep tissue injury may be difficult to detect in individuals with dark skin tones. Evolution may include a thin blister over a dark wound bed. The wound may further evolve and become covered by thin eschar. Evolution may be rapid exposing additional layers of tissue even with optimal treatment.

Stage I:
Intact skin with non-blanchable redness of a localized area usually over a bony prominence. Darkly pigmented skin may not have visible blanching; its color may differ from the surrounding area.

Further description:
The area may be painful, firm, soft, warmer or cooler as compared to adjacent tissue. Stage I may be difficult to detect in individuals with dark skin tones. May indicate “at risk” persons (a heralding sign of risk)

Stage II:
Partial thickness loss of dermis presenting as a shallow open ulcer with a red pink wound bed, without slough. May also present as an intact or open/ruptured serum-filled blister.

Further description:
Presents as a shiny or dry shallow ulcer without slough or bruising.* This stage should not be used to describe skin tears, tape burns, perineal dermatitis, maceration or excoriation.
*Bruising indicates suspected deep tissue injury

Stage III:
Full thickness tissue loss. Subcutaneous fat may be visible but bone, tendon or muscle are not exposed. Slough may be present but does not obscure the depth of tissue loss. May include undermining and tunneling.

Further description:
The depth of a stage III pressure ulcer varies by anatomical location. The bridge of the nose, ear, occiput and malleolus do not have subcutaneous tissue and stage III ulcers can be shallow. In contrast, areas of significant adiposity can develop extremely deep stage III pressure ulcers. Bone/tendon is not visible or directly palpable.

Stage IV:
Full thickness tissue loss with exposed bone, tendon or muscle. Slough or eschar may be present on some parts of the wound bed. Often include undermining and tunneling.

Further description:
The depth of a stage IV pressure ulcer varies by anatomical location. The bridge of the nose, ear, occiput and malleolus do not have subcutaneous tissue and these ulcers can be shallow. Stage IV ulcers can extend into muscle and/or supporting structures (e.g., fascia, tendon or joint capsule) making osteomyelitis possible. Exposed bone/tendon is visible or directly palpable.

Unstageable:
Full thickness tissue loss in which the base of the ulcer is covered by slough (yellow, tan, gray, green or brown) and/or eschar (tan, brown or black) in the wound bed.

Further description:

Until enough slough and/or eschar is removed to expose the base of the wound, the true depth, and therefore stage, cannot be determined. Stable (dry, adherent, intact without erythema or fluctuance) eschar on the heels serves as “the body’s natural (biological) cover” and should not be removed.

For more information about Pressure Ulcers and Staging and how to become Wound Care Certified, please visit our registration page.