Donald E. Fetterolf, MD; and Robert J. Snyder, DPM, MSc
Amniotic membrane has been employed in the treatment of wounds for almost 100 years, beginning with early application of natural amniotic membrane obtained from labor and delivery to various types of burns and wounds. Amniotic membrane is rich in collagen and various growth factors that support the healing process to both improve wound closure and reduce scar formation. Unique properties of the material include the lack of immunologic markers, conferring an “immune privileged” status on the allografts; antibacterial properties; and the ability to reduce pain on application. The resurgence of interest in the use of amniotic membrane in a number of applications, including wound treatment, has occurred following improved techniques for preserving the natural membrane. Recently, techniques have been developed to dehydrate the material while preserving many of these wound-healing attributes, to produce a temperature-stable allograft. Future research will continue to yield more information on the unique properties of the amniotic membrane allografts.