Effectiveness of negative pressure wound therapy/closed incision management in the prevention of post-surgical wound complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Background

The treatment of post-surgical wound complications, such as surgical site infections and surgical wound dehiscence, generates a significant burden for patients and healthcare systems. The effectiveness of negative pressure wound therapy has been under investigation but to date no systematic review has been published in relation to its effectiveness in the prevention of surgical wound complications.

Objectives

To identify the effectiveness of negative pressure wound therapy in the prevention of post-surgical wound complications in adults with a closed surgical incision compared to standard surgical dressings.

Inclusion criteria

Types of participants

Inclusion criteria

Male and female adults who have had negative pressure wound therapy applied to their surgical incision following a procedure in one of the following areas: trauma, cardiothoracic, orthopedic, abdominal, or vascular surgery.

Inclusion criteria

Types of intervention

Inclusion criteria

The intervention of interest was the use of negative pressure wound therapy directly over an incision following a surgical procedure; the comparator was standard surgical dressings.

Inclusion criteria

Types of studies

Inclusion criteria

Both experimental and epidemiological study designs, including randomized controlled trials, pseudo-randomized trials, quasi-experimental studies, before and after studies, prospective and retrospective cohort studies, case control studies, and analytical cross sectional studies were sought.

Inclusion criteria

Types of outcomes

Inclusion criteria

The primary outcome was the occurrence of post-surgical wound infection or dehiscence as measured by the following: surgical site infections - superficial and deep; surgical wound dehiscence; wound pain; wound seroma; wound hematoma.

Search strategy

Published and unpublished studies in English from 1990 to 2013 were identified by searching a variety of electronic databases. Reference lists of all papers selected for retrieval were then searched for additional studies.

Methodological quality

Papers selected for retrieval were assessed by two independent reviewers for methodological validity prior to inclusion in the review using standardized critical appraisal instruments from the Joanna Briggs Institute Meta-Analysis of Statistics Assessment and Review Instrument.

Data collection

Data were extracted from the included papers using a standardized data extraction tool from the Joanna Briggs Institute Meta-Analysis of Statistics Assessment and Review Instrument. In addition to study results, the data extracted included details of the study population, setting, intervention and author's conclusion.

Data synthesis

Where appropriate, data were pooled using Comprehensive Meta-Analysis software. Meta-analyses were performed for three outcomes. In cases of heterogeneity between studies a narrative summary of results was undertaken.

Results

Eight studies were included in the review. Meta-analyses revealed a statistically significant difference in favor of the use of negative pressure wound therapy as compared to standard surgical dressings was found for surgical site infections. Conflicting results were found for wound dehiscence and seroma.

Conclusions

Given the small number of studies, mostly retrospective comparative cohort in design, no definitive conclusions can be reached as to the effectiveness of the use of negative pressure wound therapy in the prevention of surgical wound complications. However, there was a demonstrated association between the use of negative pressure wound therapy and reduction in surgical site infection.

Implications for practice

Negative pressure wound therapy in preference to standard postoperative dressings, for example dry gauze, may be considered for closed surgical incisions in adults assessed as high-risk for surgical site infections.

Implications for research

The focus of further research on this topic should be level one studies (randomized controlled trials) on patients identified as ‘at risk’ in the preoperative period.

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