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Dermatol Surg. 2005 Jun;31(6):664-9.

Gentamicin ointment versus petrolatum for management of auricular wounds.

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Department of Dermatology, Brown Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.



Surgeons frequently create defects on the ear in the treatment of cutaneous malignancies. Potentially significant complications of second-intention healing on the ear are suppurative and inflammatory chondritis. Consequently, many physicians advocate the use of oral or topical prophylactic antibiotics after auricular surgery.


The purpose of this study is to compare the efficacy of gentamicin ointment with that of petrolatum for the prevention of suppurative chondritis during second-intention healing of auricular wounds after Mohs surgery.


One hundred forty-two patients with a total of 147 second-intention wounds were prospectively selected to receive either gentamicin ointment or petrolatum postoperatively.


One hundred forty-four wounds were evaluated in a follow-up examination or by telephone interview. Eight (5.56%) wounds developed suppurative chondritis. Four wounds received gentamicin and four received petrolatum, for incidences of 4.76% and 6.67%, respectively. Twelve (8.33%) other wounds developed inflammatory chondritis. Ten (11.90%) received gentamicin and two (3.33%) received petrolatum.


There is no statistically significant difference between the use of gentamicin ointment and petrolatum in the prevention of postoperative auricular suppurative chondritis. The data also demonstrate a disproportionate number of cases of inflammatory chondritis in the gentamicin-treated group. This study supports the cost-effective and potentially less irritating use of petrolatum for wound care in this difficult to manage area.

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