Wound Complication Rates After Staples or Suture for Midline Vertical Skin Closure in Obese Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To compare wound complication rates after skin closure with staples and subcuticular suture in obese gynecology patients undergoing laparotomy through a midline vertical incision.

METHODS:

In this randomized controlled trial, women with body mass indexes (BMIs) of 30 or greater undergoing surgery by a gynecologic oncologist through a midline vertical incision were randomized to skin closure with staples or subcuticular 4-0 monofilament suture. The primary outcome was the rate of wound complication, defined as the presence of a wound breakdown, or infection, within 8 weeks postoperatively. Secondary outcomes included operative time, Stony Brook scar cosmetic score, and patient satisfaction. A sample size of 162 was planned to detect a 50% reduction in wound complications. At planned interim review (n=82), there was no significant difference in primary outcome.

RESULTS:

Between 2013 and 2016, 163 women were analyzed, including 84 who received staples and 79 suture. Women who received staples were older (mean age 59 compared with 57 years), had lower mean BMI (37.3 compared with 38.9), and fewer benign indications for surgery (22 compared with 27). There were no differences in wound complication rates between staple compared with suture skin closure (28 [33%] compared with 25 [32%], relative risk 1.05, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.68–1.64). Women with staples reported worse median cosmetic scores (four of five compared with five of five, P<.001), darker scar color (37 [49%] compared with 13 [18%], relative risk 2.69, 95% CI 1.57–4.63), and more skin marks (30 [40%] compared with three [4%], relative risk 9.47, 95% CI 3.02–29.65) compared with women with suture closure. There was no group difference regarding satisfaction with their scar. Stepwise multivariate analysis revealed BMI (odds ratio [OR] 1.13, 95% CI 1.07–1.20), maximum postoperative glucose (OR 1.01, 95% CI 1.00–1.01), and cigarette smoking (OR 4.96, 95% CI 1.32–18.71) were correlates of wound complication.

CONCLUSION:

Closure of midline vertical skin incisions with subcuticular suture does not reduce surgical site wound complications compared with staples in obese gynecology patients.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01977612.

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