The key difference between tunneling and undermining is that tunneling generally occurs in one direction while undermining may occur in one or more directions.
In wound management, it is necessary to determine the extent of tunneling or undermining. Therefore, tunneling and undermining are two phenomena used in wound assessment. Tunneling penetrates more deeply into the tissue. It is a channel that goes in one direction from the wound base. Undermining results in a large wound that is less extensive. It may occur in one or more directions. Neither tunneling nor undermining is easily visualized. Both tunneling and undermining are serious conditions. They appear small when we observed from the skin’s surface. But these wounds are much bigger than we see from the outside.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Tunneling
3. What is Undermining
4. Similarities – Tunneling and Undermining
5. Tunneling and Undermining in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Tunneling vs Undermining
What is Tunneling?
Tunneling is a channel or tunnel that extends from the wound base in a unidirectional manner. It produces a dead space. Sinus tract is a synonym for tunneling. It penetrates deeper into the tissue. Tunneling is caused due to the destruction of subcutaneous tissue in a linear fashion. Sometimes, tunnel may open at the end with another wound opening. Tunneling can be measured by a probe, and its location can be described using the clock method. There is a potential for abscess formation in tunneling. Tunneling is not easily visualized. It also takes a longer time to heal.
What is Undermining?
Undermining results in a large wound with a small opening. Therefore, it includes a wider area than tunneling. Generally, undermining occurs in more than one direction. Undermining is less extensive. It is caused by erosion under the wound edges. It can be measured by a probe holding parallel to the wound surface. There is less potential in abscess formation in undermining. Undermining is more commonly seen in patients with pressure wounds and neuropathic ulcers. Similar to tunneling, undermining is not easy to visualize. Moreover, undermining takes a longer time to heal.
What are the Similarities Between Tunneling and Undermining?
- Tunneling and undermining are two phenomena in wound assessment.
- Both are serious conditions.
- When looking from the skin’s surface, both appear small, but they are actually bigger.
- They can be measured by a probe.
- Their positions can be described in clock terms.
- They are not always easy to visualize.
- Both take a longer time to heal.
What is the Difference Between Tunneling and Undermining?
Tunneling extends in one direction, while undermining may extend in one or more directions. So, this is the key difference between tunneling and undermining. Moreover, tunneling is a passageway or a channel, but undermining is a large wound with a small opening. Furthermore, tunneling penetrates more deeply into the tissue while undermining is less extensive. Besides, tunneling is caused by the destruction of subcutaneous tissue in a linear way, while undermining is caused by erosion of the tissue in wound edges.
The below infographic lists the differences between tunneling and undermining in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Tunneling vs Undermining
Tunneling and undermining are two types of wounds categorized during wound assessment. Tunneling occurs when the subcutaneous tissue is destructed in a linear fashion. Undermining occurs when the tissue under the wound edges is eroded. Tunneling is unidirectional, while undermining may occur in more than one direction. Moreover, tunneling extends deeper into the tissue while undermining is less extensive. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between tunneling and undermining.
1.“How to Assess Wounds for Tunneling and Undermining.” WoundSource, 6 May 2020.
1. “417 Tissue Repair” By OpenStax College – Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site, Jun 19, 2013 (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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