Delayed Primary Closure Using Negative Pressure Wound Therapy

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    Medical College of Wisconsin
Updated on 28 November 2021


Surgical site infection rates for contaminated or dirty laparotomy wounds can be as high as 45%. Surgical management of dirty and contaminated wounds has been controversial in the literature and between surgeons. Primary closure (PC) of these wounds can lead to multiple complications including surgical site infection (SSI), necrotizing soft tissue infection, wound and fascial dehiscence, evisceration, sepsis and hernia development. However, an alternative technique of utilizing secondary intention results in prolonged healing time and increased cost and healthcare resource utilization. Delayed primary closure (DPC) was developed to address many of these issues. Bhangu completed a systematic review and meta-analysis comparing primary versus delayed primary skin closure in contaminated and dirty abdominal wounds. They included 8 studies randomizing 623 patients with contaminated or dirty abdominal wounds to either DPC or PC. The most common diagnosis was appendicitis (77.4%), followed by perforated abdominal viscus (11.5%), ileostomy closure (6.5%), trauma (2.7%), and intra-abdominal abscess/other peritonitis (1.9%). The time to first assessment for DPC was between 2 and 5 days postoperatively. In all studies, the DPC group had significantly less SSIs using a fixed-effect model (odds ratio, 0.65; 95%CI, 0.40-0.93; P = .02). However, heterogeneity was high (72%), and using a random-effects model, the effect was no longer significant (odds ratio, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.25-1.64; P = .36). Additionally, all of the studies were found to be at high risk of bias, with marked deficiencies in study design and outcome assessment.

A recent systematic review showed improved fascial closure rates with negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) Yet, a large national study using NPWT to perform a DPC has been shown to actually decrease the rate of closure. Access to NPWT has increased over the years and innovative wound management techniques including incisional application of negative pressure therapy have allowed clinicians to apply this method to dirty wounds following the principles of delayed primary closure. There are currently no studies available to help determine the safety and efficacy of advanced NPWT techniques to optimize surgical wound management from the open abdomen to skin closure. Within our Division, we have decided to make a practice change and develop a standard closure plan for open abdomens using the negative pressure devices available within our institution.

Condition Abdominal Infection, Intra-Abdominal Infections, Intra-abdominal Infection, Intraabdominal Infections
Treatment Abthera, Open adbdomen for post-laparotomy without NPWT device
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04042259
SponsorMedical College of Wisconsin
Last Modified on28 November 2021


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Inclusion Criteria

years or older
undergone midline laparotomy and managed with an open abdomen for at least one day
contaminated or dirty wound classification

Exclusion Criteria

Less than 18 years of age
Pregnant females
Non-surgical patients
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