How do I stage a wound if cartilage is present?

In the human body the cartilage is found in joints, rib cage, ear, nose, bronchial tubes and between the inter-vertebral discs.

stage a wound when cartilage is present

As wound clinicians we most often see it just below the bridge of the nose or on the ear in our patients with pressure injuries.

Many clinicians continually question themselves how to stage a wound with visible or palpable cartilage present.

After all, cartilage does serve the same function as bone, but the word itself is not found in the stage IV definition from the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, or NPUAP. 

So how do you stage the pressure injury where it is visible or palpable?

Here is your answer: In August 2012, the NPUAP released a statement that stated: “Although the presence of visible or palpable cartilage at the base of a pressure injury was not included in the stage IV terminology; it is the opinion of the NPUAP that cartilage serves the same anatomical function as bone. Therefore, pressure injuries that have exposed cartilage should be classified as a stage IV.”

What that means is any pressure injury where you can see or feel cartilage will be classified as a stage IV pressure injury.

Simply put: if you have cartilage present in the wound, you stage it as a stage IV pressure injury.

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What do you think?

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