Is time to closure a factor in the occurrence of infection in traumatic wounds? A prospective cohort study in a Dutch level 1 trauma centre

Mark T.M. van den Baar, Job van der Palen, Marianne I. Vroon, Paul Bertelink, Ron Hendrix

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The dogma that traumatic wounds should not be sutured after 6 h is based on an animal experiment by P L Friedrich in 1898. There is no adequately powered prospective study on this cut-off of 6 h to confirm or disprove the dogma. The aim of this study was to provide evidence against the dogma that wounds should be sutured within 6 h after trauma.

Method: 425 patients were included in a prospective cohort study. Patients' wounds were closed, independent of time after trauma. All patients were seen after 7–10 days for removal of stitches and wound control on infection.

Results: Of the 425 patients, 17 were lost to follow-up. Of the remaining 408 patients, 45 had wounds older than 6 h after trauma. At follow-up 372 patients (91%) had no infection and 36 patients had redness of the suture sites or worse. 11 patients (2.7%) had general redness or pus. Of those with a wound older than 6 h, three of 45 (6.7%) wounds were infected, versus 30 of 363 (9.1%) in wounds younger than 6 h (p=0.59).

Conclusion: In everyday practice wounds are sutured regardless of elapsed time. Here an attempt was made to present the evidence for this daily routine, contrary to Friedrich's Dogma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-543
JournalEmergency medicine journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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