Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Surgeon shows simple cotton swab slashes post-surgical wound infections

Date:
June 29, 2011
Source:
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Summary:
A simple item found in almost every medicine cabinet -- a cotton swab -- may be a key tool in the fight against post-surgical wound infections.

A simple item found in almost every medicine cabinet -- a cotton swab -- may be a key tool in the fight against post-surgical wound infections.

Related Articles


In a sentinel trial, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center surgeon Shirin Towfigh, MD, showed that painless and gentle probing of a wound with a dry cotton swab after surgery dramatically reduced infections in post-operative incision sites: only 3 percent of patients who had the daily probings contracted infections compared to 19 percent of those who didn't -- a rate more than six times higher than that of the study group.

"That a humble cotton swab could have such an impact in reducing the incidence of hospital-acquired infections is really quite remarkable," Towfigh said. "This study reminds us that scientists can still find effective treatments when we are willing to think outside of the 'technology box.' "

Surgical site infections most commonly occur when patients have "dirty" or contaminated wounds, such as after a trauma, bowel surgery, or perforated appendicitis. Until now, no preventative treatment at the contaminated wound site -- including topical antibiotics, under-the-skin wound drains or delayed closure of the wound -- has proven to reliably decrease these infections. More than 500,000 such infections occur in the U.S each year, accounting for nearly one-quarter of hospital-acquired infections and a major source of illness and cause of death in patients.

The exact mechanism by which the technique prevents surgical site infection is unclear, though Towfigh and colleagues surmise that wound probing allows contaminated fluid trapped within soft tissues to drain, reducing the bacterial burden while maintaining a moist environment needed for successful wound healing.

Besides greatly reducing incision infections, painless probing with the cotton swab resulted in less post-operative pain for patients and significantly shorter hospital stays (five vs. seven days). Patients also had better cosmetic healing of their incisions and -- unsurprisingly -- higher satisfaction with their outcomes.

As reported in the Archives of Surgery, all study participants had undergone an appendectomy for a perforated appendicitis. Half of the 76 patients in the prospective, randomized trial had their incisions loosely closed with staples, then swabbed daily with iodine (the control group). The study group had their incisions loosely closed. Then, their wounds were probed gently between surgical staples with a dry, sterile cotton tip applicator each day.

"This practice was introduced to me as a surgical resident 15 years ago," Towfigh says. "I've used it routinely since then. While I thought all surgeons were aware of this treatment approach, I learned otherwise when I began my professional career. Since it was evident to me that probing certain wounds after surgery resulted in far fewer infections, I developed this clinical trial so that my colleagues across the country could learn about -- and confidently adopt -- the practice."

Towfigh, part of the Cedars-Sinai's Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery and the Department of Surgery, has taught her wound probing technique to the medical and nursing staff throughout Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The team of colorectal surgeons at Cedars-Sinai has not only adopted the practice but has begun a clinical study in their own patient population.

As a surgical educator at Cedars-Sinai, Towfigh teaches the probing technique to her medical students, residents and fellows with the expectation they will educate others as they fan out to hospitals nationwide.

Towfigh is a faculty member in the medical center's division of General Surgery.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Towfigh, T. Clarke, W. Yacoub, A. H. Pooli, R. J. Mason, N. Katkhouda, T. V. Berne. Significant Reduction of Wound Infections With Daily Probing of Contaminated Wounds: A Prospective Randomized Clinical Trial. Archives of Surgery, 2011; 146 (4): 448 DOI: 10.1001/archsurg.2011.61

Cite This Page:

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Surgeon shows simple cotton swab slashes post-surgical wound infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628113149.htm>.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. (2011, June 29). Surgeon shows simple cotton swab slashes post-surgical wound infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628113149.htm
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Surgeon shows simple cotton swab slashes post-surgical wound infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628113149.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Google X wants to improve modern medicine with nanoparticles and a wearable device. It's all an attempt to tackle disease detection and prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Researchers in Sweden released a study showing heavy milk drinkers face an increased mortality risk from a variety of causes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins