Early wound dressing removal after scheduled cesarean delivery: a randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Following cesarean delivery, wound dressings are typically left over the incision for 24-48 hours.

OBJECTIVE:

The objective of this study was to determine if early removal of the wound dressing at 6 hours postsurgery has any effect on wound complications.

STUDY DESIGN:

This was a randomized, controlled study from August 2013 through January 2015 in which 320 low-risk women aged 18-44 years having scheduled primary, first repeat, or second repeat cesarean delivery were randomized for wound dressing removal at either 6 or 24 hours postsurgery. Skin closure was with staples in all cases. The primary outcome was postoperative wound complications, defined as infection, disruption (skin dehiscence or deeper), or seroma/hematoma. Also examined was patient satisfaction with timing of their ability to wash or shower after wound dressing removal. A sample size of 160 women in each group was needed to show a 100% increase in the wound complication incidence from 12-24%.

RESULTS:

A total of 320 women were randomized, 160 in the 6-hour group and 160 in the 24-hour group. The proportion of primary and repeat cesarean deliveries was similar. The incidence of wound complications was not significantly different between the groups, 13.8% in the 6-hour group and 12.5% in the 24-hour group (odds ratio, 1.16; 95% confidence interval, 0.58–2.14). More women were pleased and satisfied with their ability to wash or shower soon after wound dressing removal in the 6-hour group (75.6%) compared to the 24-hour group (56.9%; odds ratio, 2.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.46–3.79).

CONCLUSION:

Early removal of the wound dressing at 6 hours following cesarean delivery has no detrimental effect on incision healing. Early removal permits the woman to attend to personal hygiene earlier, making her more satisfied with her postoperative recovery.

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