Animal-inflicted open wounds in rural Turkey: lessons learned and a proposed treatment algorithm for uncertain scenarios

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Uncertainty in the management of animal-inflicted injuries, especially in rural settings, usually results in a general approach to leave all wounds to heal with secondary intention, which can lead to unsightly scarring and functional loss. This study focusus on different circumstances dealt with by plastic surgeons in a rural setting in Turkey and aims to configure what the general approach should be through an analysis of a wide spectrum of patients.

Between June 2013 and December 2014, 205 patients who presented to the emergency department for animal-inflicted injuries were retrospectively analysed. Patients who consulted for plastic surgery were included in the analysis to determine which wounds require further attention. Patients with past animal-inflicted injuries who presented to the outpatient plastic surgery clinic with concerns such as non-healing open wounds or cosmetic or functional impairment were also evaluated.

Statistical analysis demostrated a significantly lower rate of infection encountered in animal-inflicted open wounds (AIOWs) of patients who consulted for plastic surgery from the emergency department than those who presented to the outpatient clinic (P < 0·05).

The main concern in the management of animal-inflicted wounds is their potential for infection, but this does not mean that every wound will be infected. The most important factor is being able to distinguish wounds that have a higher potential for infection and to select the type of wound management accordingly. An algorithm has been proposed as a guidance for the management of AIOWs, which covers the approach towards both domestic and stray animal-inflicted injuries.

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