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Wound vac therapy


What is a wound vac?

A wound vac is a treatment that helps wounds heal faster. “Vac” stands for vacuum assisted closure. The treatment uses suction, like a vacuum cleaner. This pulls fluid out of the wound and holds the edges of the wound together. It also helps blood to flow to the wound, which helps it heal. Your child’s bandage might need changing less often than a regular bandage when you use a wound vac.

Important things to know about a wound vac

If your child has a wound vac, be certain of the following things.

  • You have your charging cord with you on all clinic visits and if your child goes back to stay in the hospital.
  • The vac is running. It should never be off for more than 2 hours.
  • The dressing has no rips, tears, or leaks.

If the dressing is leaking or the vac is not working properly, please contact your clinic. After hours, please call the Medicine Room at 901-595-2441. Be prepared to come back to the hospital right away.

Wound vac therapy

What the wound vac looks like

The pictures show what the wound vac looks like. In the picture at the right, the arrows show you where to plug the wound vac in and charge it. If you have any questions about charging the wound vac, please ask your child’s nurse.

Wound vac therapy

The picture at the left shows you how to tell if the wound vac is on or charging. You use the touch screen to control the wound vac.

Fixing a leak

If the dressing has a leak and you are trained to fix it, follow these steps.

  1.  Gather these supplies on a clean work area.
    • Clear dressing or drape – This is a clear plastic bandage that is sticky on one (1) side.
    • Clean scissors
    • Gloves – They do not have to be sterile
    • No-sting barrier film
  2. Wash your hands. See “Do You Know … Clean Hands” for the best way to do this.
  3. Put on your gloves.
  4. Check the dressing for leaks. You can listen for an air leak or signs that the dressing is not sticking to the wound well.
  5. Test the leak area by holding the dressing down with the palm of your hand. See if the pump then gets suction and the leak goes away.
  6. Trim away any loose pieces of the dressing. Put barrier film on the dressing and on the skin where the leak is.
  7. Put a new piece of dressing on the area that had the leak.
  8. If the wound vac does not seal after 3 layers of dressing, please call your child’s clinic right away.

Changing the collection canister

You might need to change the canister that collects fluid from the wound. The canister is disposable, so you cannot empty it. The picture below shows the wound vac on the left and the canister on the right.

Wound vac therapy

Change the canister

You will hear an alarm when the canister is full.

  1. If you have another empty canister, take the old canister off by pushing down the latch release lever. Clamp both of the clamps and twist the tubing to unhook it.
  2. Take the protective cap off the new canister tubing.
  3. Twist the canister tubing to the right onto the Trac tubing leading to the wound.
  4. Unclamp both tubing clamps.
  5. Restart the vac by pressing the on-off button.
  6. Make sure the dressing shrinks and goes down and the vac reaches its programmed suction level.

Problems and what to do

Please call the clinic and be prepared to bring your child to St. Jude right away if:

  • The vac suction fails.
  • The canister is full, and you do not have a replacement,
  • The vac machine fails,
  • The battery dies.
  • The dressing is leaking and cannot be fixed.
  • You cannot unblock the wound vac tubing.

After hours, please call the Medicine Room at 901-595-2441.


Ask your child’s doctor or nurse if you have questions about the wound vac.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).