Is there a relationship between wound infections and laceration closure times?
1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Lincoln Medical & Mental Health Center, 234 East 149th Street, Bronx, NY, 10451, USA
2 Department of Public health, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 402 E. 67th Street, New York, NY 10065, USA
International Journal of Emergency Medicine 2012, 5:32 doi:10.1186/1865-1380-5-32Published: 26 July 2012
Lacerations account for a large number of ED visits. Is there a “golden period” beyond which lacerations should not be repaired primarily? What type of relationship exists between time of repair and wound infection rates? Is it linear or exponential? Currently, the influence of laceration age on the risk of infection in simple lacerations repaired is not clearly defined. We conducted this study to determine the influence of time of primary wound closure on the infection rate.
This is a prospective observational study of patients who presented to the Emergency Department (ED) with a laceration requiring closure from April 2009 to November 2010. The wound closure time was defined as the time interval from when the patient reported laceration occurred until the time of the start of the wound repair procedure. Univariate analysis was performed to determine the factors predictive of infection. A non-parametric Wilcoxon rank-sum test was performed to compare the median differences of time of laceration repair. Chi-square (Fisher's exact) tests were performed to test for infection differences with regard to gender, race, location of laceration, mechanism of injury, co-morbidities, type of anesthesia and type of suture material used.
Over the study period, 297 participants met the inclusion criteria and were followed. Of the included participants, 224 (75.4%) were male and 73 (24.6%) were female. Ten patients (3.4%) developed a wound infection. Of these infections, five occurred on hands, four on extremities (not hands) and one on the face. One of these patients was African American, seven were Hispanic and two were Caucasian (p = 0.0005). Median wound closure time in the infection group was 867 min and in the non-infection group 330 min (p = 0.03).
Without controlling various confounding factors, the median wound closure time for the lacerations in the wound infection group was statistically significantly longer than in the non-infection group.