Gentamicin ointment versus petrolatum for management of auricular wounds

Ross M Campbell, Clifford S Perlis, Emily Fisher, Hugh M Gloster
Dermatologic Surgery: Official Publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et Al.] 2005, 31 (6): 664-9

BACKGROUND: 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.

OBJECTIVE: 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.

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

RESULTS: 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.

CONCLUSIONS: 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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