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Acta Med Croatica. 2006 Sep;60(4):353-63.

[Characteristics of war wound infection].

[Article in Croatian]

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  • 1Zavod za klinicku mikrobiologiju i hospitalne infekcije Opća bolnica "Sveti Duh" Sveti Duh 64 10000 Zagreb, Hrvatska.


War wounds are the most complex type of non-targeted injuries due to uncontrolled tissue damage of varied and multifold localizations, exposing sterile body areas to contamination with a huge amount of bacteria. Wound contamination is caused by both the host microflora and exogenous agents from the environment (bullets, cloth fragments, dust, dirt, water) due to destruction of the host protective barriers. War wounds are the consequence of destructive effects of various types of projectiles, which result in massive tissue devitalization, hematomas, and compromised circulation with tissue ischemia or anoxia. This environment is highly favorable for proliferation of bacteria and their invasion in the surrounding tissue over a relatively short period of time. War wounds are associated with a high risk of local and systemic infection. The infection will develop unless a timely combined treatment is undertaken, including surgical intervention within 6 hours of wounding and antibiotic therapy administered immediately or at latest in 3 hours of wound infliction. Time is a crucial factor in this type of targeted combined treatment consisting of surgical debridement, appropriate empirical antimicrobial therapy, and specific antitetanic prophylaxis. Apart from exposure factors, there are a number of predisposing factors that favor the development of polymicrobial aerobic-anaerobic infection. These are shock, pain, blood loss, hypoxia, hematomas, type and amount of traumatized tissue, age, and comorbidity factors in the wounded. The determinants that define the spectrum of etiologic agents in contaminated war wounds are: wound type, body region involved, time interval between wounding and primary surgical treatment, climate factors, season, geographical area, hygienic conditions, and patient habits. The etiologic agents of infection include gram-positive aerobic cocci, i. e. Staphylococcus spp, Streptococcus spp and Enterococcus spp, which belong to the physiological flora of the human skin and mucosa; gram-negative facultative aerobic rods; members of the family Enterobacteriacea (Escherichia coil, Proteus mirabilis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterobacter cloacae), which predominate in the physiological flora of the intestines, transitory flora of the skin and environment; gram-negative bacteria, i. e. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Serratia marcescens, Acinetobacter calcoaceticus - A. baumanii complex; environmental bacteria associated with humid environment and dust; anaerobic gram-positive sporogeneous rods Clostridium spp, gram-negative asporogeneous rods Bacteroides spp and gram-positive anaerobic cocci; Peptostreptococcus spp and Peptococcus spp. The latter usually colonize the intestine, primarily the colon, and the skin, while clostridium spores are also found in the environment. Early empirical antibiotic therapy is used instead of standard antibiotic prophylaxis. Empirical antimicrobial therapy is administered to prevent the development of systemic infection, gas gangrene, necrotizing infection of soft tissue, intoxication and death. The choice of antibiotics is determined by the presumed infective agents and localization of the wound. It is used in all types of war wounds over 5-7-10 days. The characteristics of antibiotics used in war wounds are the following: broad spectrum of activity, ability to penetrate deep into the tissue, low toxicity, long half-life, easy storage and application, and cost effectiveness. The use of antibiotics is not a substitution for surgical treatment. The expected incidence of infection, according to literature data, is 35%-40%. If the time elapsed until surgical debridement exceeds 12 hours, or the administration of antibiotics exceeds 6 hours of wound infliction, primary infection of the war wound occurs (early infection) in more than 50% of cases. The keys for the prevention of infection are prompt and thorough surgical exploration of the wound, administration of antibiotics and antitetanic prophylaxis, awareness of the probable pathogens with respect to localization of the wound, and optimal choice of antibiotics and length of their administration.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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