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Plast Reconstr Surg. 1990 Dec;86(6):1059-64; discussion 1065.

A randomized prospective study of topical antimicrobial agents on skin grafts after thermal injury.

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Department of Surgery, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Ky.


We prospectively studied 52 consecutive patients who were treated by early tangential excision and grafting following thermal injury. The usefulness of two topical antimicrobial agents--0.5% silver nitrate (Ag) and neomycin (1 gm/liter) plus bacitracin (50,000 units/liter) (NB)--was compared with the effectiveness of Ringer's lactate (RL) for prevention of autogenous skin-graft loss due to infection. Graft loss of 10 percent or more occurred in 17 patients (33 percent)--due to infection in 16. Skin-graft loss was a minor problem in patients with less than 20 percent total body surface area (TBSA) burn (Ag: 0 of 6, NB: 1 of 6, RL: 1 of 5). The use of either antimicrobial (Ag or NB) resulted in less graft loss (1 of 14) than RL (4 of 6; p less than 0.05) in the 20 to 40 percent TBSA burn group. Large burns (greater than 40 percent) had a very high incidence of at least 10 percent graft loss (67 percent) regardless of treatment. Infection in the area of graft loss was caused by antibiotic-resistant organisms or yeast in 50 percent of the Ringer's lactate group and the entire neomycin plus bacitracin group. No graft infections were caused by resistant organisms or yeast in the silver nitrate group. This study demonstrates that topical antimicrobial agents reduce infection-related skin-graft loss in patients with medium-sized (20 to 40 percent TBSA) burns and that neomycin plus bacitracin is associated with rapid emergence of drug-resistant organisms whereas silver nitrate is not.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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