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Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2012 Jun;50(4):321-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2011.07.014. Epub 2011 Aug 9.

Randomised controlled feasibility trial on the use of medical grade honey following microvascular free tissue transfer to reduce the incidence of wound infection.

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  • 1CNS Leg Ulcer Care, Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool L9 7AL, United Kingdom.


The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of using Leptospermum honey in a randomised trial to reduce the incidence of wound infection after microvascular free tissue reconstruction for cancer of the head and neck. During the one-year study period 70 consecutive patients were admitted to the regional maxillofacial ward for free tissue reconstruction. Of these, 56 (80%) consented to be randomised and 49 (70%) were actually randomised, 25 into the honey dressings group, and 24 into the conventional dressings group (control). Six patients were missed when consent was required, 8 did not consent, and 7 who had given consent were missed at the randomisation stage in theatre. Results of wound swabs were positive in 36% of the honey group and 38% of the control group. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was found in 28% and 25%, respectively. Of these, 38% were deemed to require intervention. Honey dressings were acceptable to both patients and nurses. There was a reduction (p<0.05) in duration of hospital stay in the honey group (median 12 days, IQR 10-21) compared with the control (median 18 days, IQR 13-28). The cost of standard and honey dressings was similar. This feasibility study has shown that a randomised controlled trial (RCT) is possible and that several hundreds of patients would be required to show a clinical benefit for honey. Further research is needed to confirm a shorter duration of hospital admission and if so, whether this is due to more rapid healing.

Copyright © 2011 The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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