Sunday, January 15, 2012

Daily wound probing reduces surgical-site infections

An article in the Archives of Surgery reports that a daily routine of poking between the staples of a healing surgical wound with a Q-tip (a wound-probing protocol or WPP) greatly reduced surgical-site infections in patients recovering from open appendectomies after perforated appendicitis.
"...SSI in contaminated wounds can be dramatically reduced by a simple daily WPP," the study authors write. "This technique is not painful and can shorten the hospital stay. Its positive effect is independent of age, diabetes, body mass index, abdominal girth, and wound length. We recommend wound probing for management of contaminated abdominal wounds."
The investigators note that the mechanism by which wound probing reduces SSIs is not clearly understood but that it may allow for drainage of contaminated fluid within the soft tissue.
Good nursing care prevents an awful lot of complications. It probably costs almost nothing to add this bit of wound care to the routine, especially if performed by trained family members, and may keep many recovering patients in low-resource settings out of trouble. A news article about the study can be found here.

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