Debridement and Irrigation: Evolution and Current Recommendations

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Summary:Debridement is an integral step in the orthopaedic management of traumatic wounds, from open soft tissue injuries and routine open fracture care to the management of extensive high-energy blast injuries. While the necessity of debridement has been well established, the level of energy and degree of contamination of blast wounds encountered in recent armed conflict has offered a challenge and a new opportunity for military surgeons to revisit the most recent literature to guide our practice with the best evidence currently available. While the core tenants of removing the nonviable tissue and preserving the viable to maintain the best functional outcome have not changed, new wound care therapies and advances in prosthetics and salvage techniques and the ability to rapidly evacuate casualties have changed the approach to care provided on the front lines. This paper seeks to review the core principles of debridement and guide treatment using evidence-based methods that can be applied to contaminated open injuries on the battlefront and disaster and intentional violence injuries abroad and at home.

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