Frequently asked questions
- What does the DECU-STICK look like?
Over time different forms of DECU-STICKs are developed and used. Essentially the method has not changed. Below the two most used forms.
One form is a 15 cm long sterile cotton swab with a centimetre scale on the package.
Another form is a common sterile cotton swab and a ruler.
- What is the DECU-STICK used for?
The DECU-STICK is used to quickly measure and record the length, width, depth, and undermining of a pressure ulcer. Weekly measurement and recording give both the practitioner and the patient insight into the progress of healing of the pressure ulcer. Four or more measurements may predict whether a pressure ulcer is healing and how long this will take (see History reference 6).
- Why is wound measurement necessary?
Wound care is a burden on the patient and costly regarding personal care and wound care materials. Therefore, it is necessary to know whether the chosen treatment is effective and wound measurement can provide the insight needed. If current treatment is not effective, one can establish the cause and choose another conservative treatment or surgery. The sooner this is done, the better it is. Wound measurement is also important in order to keep the patient motivated to continue treatment by giving him or her regular feedback on the results.
- What is the function of the cotton ball on the DECU-STICK?
It has no particular function. The DECU-STICK has a cotton ball because it is basically a sterile swab. If necessary, one could use the swab as an aid in dressing the wound after wound measurement.
- How much does a DECU-STICK cost and where can it be ordered?
Unfortunately at this time the DECU-STICK with a centimetre scale on the package is temporarily not available. Common sterile swabs cost around € 0.10 per unit and can be ordered anywhere. If you are interested in the developments of the DECU-STICK and when it becomes available again, you may contact us (see Contact) and we shall keep you informed by email. Your personal data will only be used to update you on developments concerning the DECU-STICK, wound measurement, and/or wound care.
- Can the measurement results also be stored digitally on an electronic patient file?
Not yet, but we are working on it.
- How reliable is the measurement of a pressure ulcer with the DECU-STICK?
The reliability of this method was been tested and confidence values were between 0.95 and 0.99 (see History reference 1 and 2)
- Can the measurements with the DECU-STICK also be used to calculate the surface or volume of a pressure ulcer?
Yes, this is possible, and was done in various studies. The disadvantages are that calculation takes extra time and is inaccurate. Superficial pressure ulcers are never a rectangle, thus length times width always overestimates the surface area. Deep pressure ulcers are never a cube or a rectangular block, thus length times width times height overestimates wound volume. Attempts have been made to compensate this by multiplying these dimensions with a certain factor, but outcomes remain imprecise and the chance of errors increases. Therefore, we have chosen to record only length, width, and - if present – depth and/or undermining on the wound treatment result form.
- Can measuring the pressure ulcer with the DECU-STICK cause damage?
Theoretically, damage is possible when measuring undermining. However, no damage ever occurred in more than 1,000 measurements. It is important to probe undermining carefully and do not attempt to forcefully push through a resistance.
- Is wound measurement with the DECU-STICK painful?
Most pressure ulcers exist because the skin and underlying tissue have lost all sensation. Thus measurement is not painful. If some sensation remains, however, one should bear in mind that measurement could be painful.
- Have the results on wound measurement with the DECU-STICK been published?
Yes, the method has been published (see History reference 1,2,3,and 4). In a separate article, wound measurement with the DECU-STICK, recording, and the possibility of predicting the progress of wound healing after four weeks, were described (see History reference 6). This article may be downloaded there.
- Can DECU-STICK data be compared with other wound measurement data?
Yes, DECU-STICK data are defined conform the “International Spinal Cord Injury Skin and Thermoregulation Basic Data Set (Version 1.1)” (see History reference 7). So comparing with other wound measurement data, collected conform this data set, is possible.
- Is the DECU-STICK the only way to measure pressure ulcers?
No. Many methods have been described, but all have their drawbacks (see History reference 5).
A common method is taking serial digital photographs of the wound, with a ruler next to it. This method only works in surface wounds. However, three quarters of pressure ulcers also have undermining of the wound edges. Then this method usually does not suffice. In a quarter of these ulcers undermining is even bigger than the length or width of the wound (see History reference 6). Besides, another drawback is that it is difficult to determine the course of healing if the time between the different photographs is not always the same. Due to unavoidable circumstances, however, this is often the case. Often, other methods are too expensive or time consuming for routine bedside use, which makes such methods more suitable for research projects.
- What are the advantages of measuring pressure ulcers with the DECU-STICK over measuring them with other methods??
Speed, reliability, the low cost, and the possibility of recording the results during 16 weeks on one form. After some practice, the measurement and registration of a pressure ulcer takes no more than 30 seconds. The method can be used in hospital, a nursing home, an outpatient clinic, and at home. Moreover, it is simple enough to be used not only by doctors and nurses but, if necessary, also by carers without a medical or nursing background. With more than four measurements one may predict whether the pressure ulcer is healing and how long it will take to heal.
- Can the DECU-STICK also be used to measure other wounds or dermatological disorders?