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Dermatology. 2013;227(4):361-6. doi: 10.1159/000356122. Epub 2013 Nov 20.

Management of split-thickness skin graft donor sites: a randomized controlled trial of calcium alginate versus polyurethane film dressing.

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Dermatologische Klinik, Universitätsspital Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.



Split-thickness skin graft (STSG) donor sites sometimes cause more postoperative morbidity for patients than the wound covered with the graft. Yet, there is no consensus on which dressings are best suited to treat these donor sites.


To evaluate two commonly used modern wound dressings in the postoperative healing of STSG donor sites in a prospective randomized controlled trial.


38 patients were randomly assigned to treatment of an STSG donor site with an alginate dressing or a polyurethane film dressing. The primary outcome measures were postoperative pain scores, secondary outcome variables were time to epithelialization, dressing changes and complications.


Postoperative pain on day 1 was significantly lower in the polyurethane film group (2.05 vs. 0.79, p = 0.035) as compared to the alginate group. This difference was not detected on day 5 (0.89 vs. 0.53, p = 0.52). Time to epithelialization did not differ significantly between the two dressing groups. There were more dressing changes in the polyurethane film group and problems with leakage.


Whereas film dressings resulted in initially lower pain scores, alginate dressings caused fewer additional dressing changes and less leakage.

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