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J Am Coll Surg. 2018 Apr;226(4):507-512. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2017.12.008. Epub 2017 Dec 21.

Open vs Closed Negative Pressure Wound Therapy for Contaminated and Dirty Surgical Wounds: A Prospective Randomized Comparison.

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Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Department of Surgery, Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, Temple, TX. Electronic address:
Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Department of Surgery, Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, Temple, TX.



A new proprietary negative pressure wound device has been developed to apply negative pressure therapy to closed wounds (closed-NPWT). We postulated that closed-NPWT management of contaminated and dirty wounds would lead to faster wound healing and no significant difference in wound complications.


An IRB approved, prospective randomized trial was performed. Patients were consented preoperatively, but not entered nor assigned treatment until intraoperative findings were known. Patients were randomly assigned to either open-NPWT or a wound closed with skin staples and external closed-NPWT. Primary outcome was time to complete wound healing, defined as complete epithelization of the wound. Secondary outcomes were wound complications including wound infection, seroma, and dehiscence. Statistical analysis was performed using chi-square test, Fisher exact test, t-test, and Wilcoxon Rank-Sum test with significance of p < 0.05.


Twenty-five closed-NPWT and 24 open-NPWT patients were analyzed. There were no significant differences in sex, mean age, BMI, smoking history, steroid use, comorbidities, or indication for surgery in the 2 groups. One patient in the open-NPWT group and 2 patients in the closed-NPWT group developed a wound infection (p = 1.0). Four open-NPWT and 3 closed-NPWT patients died from complications unrelated to the wound. Wound healing occurred at a median of 48 days (range 6 to 126 days) for the open-NPWT group vs a median of 7 days (range 6 to 12 days) for the closed-NPWT group (p < 0.0001).


Wound healing was significantly faster in contaminated and dirty wounds when managed with closed-NPWT. There was no difference in wound complications between the 2 treatment groups. This approach shows promise for closed management of contaminated and dirty wounds and warrants additional prospective studies with larger patient groups.

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