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Superficial Surgical Site Infection Following the Use of Intracutaneous Sutures Versus Staples.

BACKGROUND: Superficial wound infections after gastrointestinal surgery markedly impair the affected patients' quality of life. As it is still unknown which method of skin closure is best for the reduction of wound infections in elective gastrointestinal sur- gery, we compared the frequency of wound infections after intracutaneous suturing versus skin stapling.

METHODS: In a prospective, randomized, single-center study, patients undergoing elective gastrointestinal surgery were intraoperatively randomized to skin closure either with an intracutaneous suture or with staples. The primary endpoint-the occurrence of a grade A1 wound infection within 30 days of surgery-was evaluated according to the intention-to-treat principle.

RESULTS: Out of a total of 280 patients, 141 were randomized to intracutaneous suturing and 139 to stapling. The groups did not differ significantly with respect to age, sex, or ASA classification. 19 of the 141 patients in the intracutaneous suturing group (13.5%) had a grade A1 wound infection, compared with 23 of 139 in the stapling group (16.6%) (odds ratio [OR]: 0.79; 95% confidence interval: [0.41; 1.52]; p = 0.47). A multiple regression analysis revealed that the type of surgery (colorectal vs. other), the approach, and the incision length were independent risk factors for a grade A1 wound infection. When wound dehiscences were additionally considered, wound complications were found to have arisen significantly more often in the stapling group than in the intracutaneous suturing group (16.3% [23/141] versus 30.2% [42/139], OR: 0.45 [0.25; 0.80]; p = 0.006).

CONCLUSION: In elective gastrointestinal surgery, intracutaneous suturing was not found to be associated with a lower rate of superficial wound infections than skin stapling, but fewer wound dehiscences occurred in the intracutaneous suturing group.

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