Characteristics of recurrent pressure ulcers in veterans with spinal cord injury

Barbara M. Bates-Jensen*, Marylou Guihan, Susan L. Garber, Amy S. Chin, Stephen P. Burns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background/Objective: To describe characteristics of recurrent pressure ulcers (PrUs) in veterans with spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Descriptive, cohort study. Settings and Participants: Twenty-four veterans with SCI from 6 SCI centers in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Methods: Data from a prospective study evaluating PrUs were analyzed for 24 veterans with 29 recurrent PrUs during 9 months. Additional retrospective medical record data were analyzed for 15 veterans who received inpatient treatment. Results: Participants were male, 50% non-Hispanic white, with paraplegia (63%), complete SCI (83%), a mean age of 56 years, and mean time since SCI of 21 years. Most PrUs recurred (63%, n = 15 patients) in the same location as the most recent ulcer and at the ischial tuberosities (63%). Mean time to recurrence was 16.6 weeks. PrUs were stage III (28%, n = 8) or IV (45%, n = 13) with undermining (48% necrotic slough (50%), and minimal exudate. One third were (n = 9) larger than 16 cm2. Mean Bates-Jensen Wound Assessment Tool Score was 33.63. Inpatient medical record data (n = 15) showed 73% with documentation indicating infection treated with antibiotics (53%, n = 8 patients), osteomyelitis (47%, n = 7), and/or cellulitis (13%, n = 2) noted. Plastic surgery consultation was obtained for 67% with surgery as an option for 73% (1 without consultation). Scheduled repositioning was documented for 21%. Conclusions: Most PrUs were severe, located at the same anatomic site, and recurred within 4 months, suggesting that the recurrent ulcers were more likely incomplete healing of the initial PrUs. This sample of veterans with SCI provides early data on recurrent PrU characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-42
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Bates-Jensen wound assessment tool
  • Closure, mucocutaneous flap
  • Paraplegia
  • Pressure ulcers, recurrent
  • Salzburg pressure ulcer risk score
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Veterans
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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