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Arch Emerg Med. 1988 Sep;5(3):156-61.

Dog-bite lacerations: a controlled trial of primary wound closure.

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  • 1Accident and Emergency Department, Leicester Royal Infirmary, England.


Dog-bite wounds are often left open because of their reputation for infection if primarily closed. A prospective randomized trial comparing primary closure with leaving the wound open was performed to assess infection and cosmesis. Ninety-six patients with 169 lacerations had thorough surgical debridement and irrigation of their wounds. Ninety-two wounds were sutured and 77 left open. No prophylactic antibiotics were given. A total of 13 wounds developed infection: seven sutured and six unsutured wounds (not statistically significant), giving an overall infection rate of 7.7%. Significantly (P less than 0.01), more wound infections occurred in the hand in both groups compared to the rest of the body, indicating that particular attention should be paid to management of such wounds. It was concluded that dog-bite wounds should receive thorough surgical treatment and can be safely sutured at presentation. Special care should be given to hand wounds.

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