Effect of bandaging on second intention healing of wounds of the distal limb in horses

A J Dart, N R Perkins, C M Dart, L B Jeffcott, P Canfield
Australian Veterinary Journal 2009, 87 (6): 215-8

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of a non-occlusive dressing incorporated in a 3-layer bandage on second intention healing of wounds of the distal portion of the limb.

STUDY DESIGN: Untreated wounds in 33 adult horses used in four studies using the same wound-healing model conducted over 5 years.

METHODS: Standardised, full-thickness wounds were made in the skin overlying the dorsomedial aspect of the mid-metacarpus; 17 horses were bandaged with a non-occlusive dressing covered by gauze-coated cotton wool that was compressed with adhesive tape; 16 horses were left unbandaged. Wounds were photographed weekly for 9 weeks and the images were analysed electronically.

RESULTS: There were significant effects associated with bandage (P < 0.0001), week (P < 0.001), and bandage by week interaction (P < 0.0001). There was no difference in wound area at the first time-point after wound creation (P = 0.38). After week 1, there was a difference between bandaged and unbandaged wounds in wound area at each measurement until the end of the study. Bandaged wounds showed greater and more prolonged retraction. Unbandaged wounds retracted for 2 weeks before beginning to contract, whereas bandaged wounds continued to retract for 3 weeks. In bandaged wounds excess granulation tissue required regular trimming, but not in unbandaged wounds. There was no difference between groups in the total days to healing or the overall rate of healing.

CONCLUSIONS: These results should be treated with caution until validated with contemporaneous, controlled studies. Covering a wound with a non-occlusive dressing in a 3-layer bandage led to greater wound retraction, modulated the rate of wound contraction and promoted excessive granulation tissue. If excessive granulation tissue is excised regularly, bandaging has no effect on total time to healing.

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