Negative pressure wound therapy versus conventional wound dressings in treatment of open fractures: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Xi Liu, Hui Zhang, Shiqiang Cen, Fuguo Huang
International Journal of Surgery 2018, 53: 72-79

BACKGROUND: Though several systematic reviews concerned have been published, controversy still exists. The current systematic review was designed to clarify the detailed advantages and disadvantages of the negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) in treatment of open fractures in comparison with the conventional wound dressings.

METHODS: A systematic search was performed in Pubmed, Cochrane Library, Embase, and Google Scholar for the published relevant clinical studies. Unpublished studies were searched in Clinicaltrials, ICTRP and ISRCTN. The outcome measures included presence of infection, wound healing process, length of the patient hospital stay, flap issues, frequency of amputation, and patient life quality.

RESULTS: In the 8 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (421 patients) and the 6 retrospective cohort studies (488 patients), NPWT resulted in a significantly lower infection rate, significantly shorter wound coverage time, wound healing time and hospital stay length, and the lower amputation rate. However, no statistically significant difference was found in the need for flap surgery, the proportion of free flaps, the flap failure rate or the fracture non-union rate. Only 1 RCT was reported to have a higher physical component score of short form 36 in the infected patients.

CONCLUSION: NPWT can significantly reduce the risk of infection in treatment of open fractures and accelerate their wound healing process. Some but not much evidence suggests that NPWT may possibly help reduce the severity of the limb injury and therefore provide a chance for the limb to avoid amputation. Use of NPWT in the flap area is probably safe, but should be carried out with caution. The advantage of NPWT over the conventional wound dressings still requires to be confirmed in the other aspects.

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