Tissue interface pressure and skin integrity in critically ill, mechanically ventilated patients

Mary Jo Grap, Cindy L. Munro, Paul A. Wetzel, Christine M. Schubert, Anathea Pepperl, Ruth S. Burk, Valentina Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective To describe tissue interface pressure, time spent above critical pressure levels and the effect on skin integrity at seven anatomical locations. Design, setting, patients Descriptive, longitudinal study in critically ill mechanically ventilated adults, from Surgical Trauma ICU-STICU; Medical Respiratory ICU-MRICU; Neuroscience ICU-NSICU in a Mid-Atlantic urban university medical centre. Subjects were enroled in the study within 24 hours of intubation. Measurements Tissue interface pressure was measured continuously using the XSENSOR pressure mapping system (XSENSOR Technology Corporation, Calgary, Canada). Skin integrity was observed at all sites, twice daily, using the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel staging system, for the first seven ICU days and at day 10 and 14. Results Of the 132 subjects, 90.9% had no observed changes in skin integrity. Maximum interface pressure was above 32 mmHg virtually 100% of the time for the sacrum, left and right trochanter. At the 45 mmHg level, the left and right trochanter had the greatest amount of time above this level (greater than 95% of the time), followed by the sacrum, left and right scapula, and the left and right heels. Similarly, at levels above 60 mmHg, the same site order applied. For those six subjects with sacral skin integrity changes, maximum pressures were greater than 32 mmHg 100% of the time. Four of the six sacral changes were associated with greater amounts of time above both 45 mmHg and 60 mmHg than the entire sample. Conclusions Maximum tissue interface pressure was above critical levels for the majority of the documented periods, especially in the sacrum, although few changes in skin integrity were documented. Time spent above critical levels for mean pressures were considerably less compared to maximum pressures. Maximum pressures may have reflected pressure spikes, but the large amount of time above the critical pressure levels remains substantial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Critical care
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Tissue interface pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care


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