PICOs and Pressure Ulcers


PICO is a canister-free, single-use, negative pressure wound therapy system consisting of a sterile pump and multi-layered adhesive dressings. Each dressing has 4 layers: a silicone adhesive wound contact layer, which is designed to minimise pain and damage during peel-back and to reduce lateral tension; an airlock layer for even distribution of pressure; an absorbent layer to remove exudate and bacteria from the wound; and a top film layer, which acts as a physical barrier and allows moisture to evaporate. The pump is operated by 2 AA batteries and delivers a continuous negative pressure of 80 mmHg to a sealed wound. Once activated, using a push button, the battery drives the pump for up to 7 days and LEDs provide alerts for low-battery status and pressure leaks.

Standard PICO dressings come in 8 sizes: 10×20 cm, 10×30 cm, 10×40 cm, 15×15 cm, 15×20 cm, 15×30 cm, 20×20 cm and 25×25 cm. Multisite PICO dressings come in 2 sizes: small (15×20 cm) and large (20×25 cm).

The latest version of the technology is the PICO7 system. This differs from the version of PICO notified to NICE by having an improved pump to minimise leakage and an integrated belt clip to allow for easier transport. The PICO7 pump contains a magnet and it should be positioned at least 10 cm (4 inches) away from other medical devices that could be affected by magnetic interference.

Innovative aspects

PICO differs from conventional negative pressure wound dressings in that it:

  • has no separate canister
  • is portable and disposable
  • has a proprietary dressing layer that is designed to allow even distribution of negative pressure across the incision and zone of injury.

The Purpose behind the PICO

PICO is intended for surgical incisions with low or moderate levels of exudate. This guidance focuses on the use of PICO dressings for closed surgical incisions. PICO dressings can be applied by healthcare professionals including surgeons and tissue viability nurses for people in a range of care settings. Training is needed to place the dressings correctly. My District Nurses are the only ones that can dress, undress and re-dress my wounds.


Standard PICO dressings are available in 8 different sizes. Each pack includes a single-use pump and 2 dressings. The list prices for PICO dressings range from £127.06 to £145.68 (including VAT).


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