Hong Kong Emergency Nurses Association


An alternative for treatment of traumatic finger injuries – Hyphecan

Traumatic digital injuries are the commonest type of wound presents to the A&E department.1 Dressing materials we used currently include simple gauze dressings with or without petrolatum tulles. However, these dressing materials are very greasy and tend to stick onto the wound surface causing pain and trauma on patients. Therefore, James 2 and Benbow3 suggested that they do not provide an ideal environment for healing. Other dressing materials that are more sophisticated include Hydrocolloid dressing and Lipido-Colloid dressing. Although these materials are low-adherent in nature 3 , nevertheless, it may not completely fit the contour of the digits particularly hydrocolloid dressing. In addition, periodical dressing is still required which cause pain, inconvenience, time and also costly for the patients.

On the other hand, an occlusive dressing material called the Hyphecan (the finger tip cap) has been used in the treatment of finger injuries in China for years.5, 6, 7, 8 Hyphecan is made from a derivative of chitin extracted from the shell of lobsters, shrimps and crabs .9 It is non-antigenic and causes no adverse systemic reaction.9 It can be used for finger injuries with bony exposure of up to 0.5cm .5 Application is simple, the Hyphecan finger tip cap is pulled over the injured fingertip and covered with gauze and bandage for protection.6 When the Hyphecan finger cap is applied, a fluid-surface junction is formed between the wound and the cap. When the exudates from the wound is reduced, gel-like fibronectin remains, which is essential to promote wound healing.10 The greatest advantage of Hyphecan is that it can be left intact on the wound unless it is broken or wound infection. As a result, patient does not need to return for daily dressing and thus minimize the pain during dressing. Time required for wound management is also reduced. Moreover, cost of the hyphecan is relatively cheaper when compared with other sophisticated dressing materials. Patient can manage the finger cap easily with follow-up every 1-2 weeks.6 The average healing time was about 4-5 weeks in various studies.6, 7 , 8 , 9 ,10

In conclusion, Hyphecan may be an alternative for treating traumatic finger injuries. However, current studies were mainly focused on the outcomes of using Hyphecan alone as dressing materials. Further comparative evaluations with other dressing materials are still required to support the clinical findings.


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