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Acad Emerg Med. 2001 Jul;8(7):716-20.

Risk factors for infection in patients with traumatic lacerations.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4283, USA.



Most of our knowledge of laceration management comes from studies in animal models or patients with closure of sterile postoperative surgical incisions. Traumatic laceration management has not been well studied.


To determine which characteristics of traumatic lacerations were associated with the development of wound infection.


A cross-sectional study of consecutive patients with traumatic lacerations repaired over a four-year period was conducted. Structured closed-question data sheets were prospectively completed at the time of laceration repair and suture removal. Infection was determined at the time of suture removal. Multivariate modeling was used to determine the adjusted odds ratio (OR) of infection.


Five thousand five hundred twenty-one patients were enrolled; 195 patients developed an infection (3.5%). An increased likelihood of wound infection was associated with age (adjusted OR per year, 1.01; 95% CI = 1.0 to 1.02); history of diabetes mellitus (adjusted OR 6.7; 95% CI = 1.7 to 26.4); laceration width (adjusted OR 1.05 per mm; 95% CI = 1.02 to 1.08); and presence of foreign body (adjusted OR 2.6; 95% CI = 1.3 to 5.2). Laceration location on the head/neck was associated with a decreased risk of infection (adjusted OR 0.28; 95% CI = 0.18 to 0.45).


Both patient and wound characteristics of traumatic lacerations have an influence on the likelihood of infection. This knowledge may be valuable for determining whether various methods of wound cleansing, debridement, and repair can improve the outcome of patients with traumatic lacerations.

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