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Negative pressure wound therapy in burns: a prospective, randomized-controlled trial.

Burns 2024 April 16
BACKGROUND: Negative-pressure-wound-therapy (NPWT) has become a widely used tool for the coverage and active treatment of complex wounds, including burns. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of NPWT in acute burns of upper and lower extremities and to compare results to the standard-of-care (SOC) at our institution.

METHODS: Patients that were admitted to our institution between May 2019 and November 2021 with burns on extremities between 0.5 % and 10 % of the total body surface area (%TBSA) were included and randomized to either NPWT or SOC (polyhexanide gel, fatty gauze, and cotton wool). Treatment was performed until complete wound healing. Patients that required skin grafts, received additional NPWT after grafting independent on the initial group allocation.

RESULTS: Sixty-five patients suffering from burn injury between May 2019 and November 2021 were randomized into treatment with NPWT (n = 33) or SOC (n = 32); of these, 33 patients (NPWT) and 28 patients (SOC) had complete data sets and were included in the analysis. Both groups were similar regarding age (39.8 ± 13.7 vs. 44.8 ± 16.2 years,p = 0.192), total burn size (3.1 ± 2.3 vs. 3.4 ± 2.8 %TBSA,p = 0.721) and treated wound size (1.9 ± 1.2 vs. 1.5 ± 0.8 %TBSA,p = 0.138). We found no differences regarding healing time (11.0 ± 4.9 vs. 8.6 ± 3.8,p = 0.074, and significant differences in a number of dressing changes throughout the study (2.4 ± 1.5 vs 4.2 ± 1.9,p < 0.001). The Kaplan-Meier time-to-event analysis exhibited no statistically significant difference in the time to healing or skin grafting (p = 0.085) in NPWT group compared with SOC group. The median time to healing or skin grafting was 10(8-11) days for NPWT and 9(7-11) days for SOC. The hazard ratio for healing or skin graft was HR= 0.64(0.38-1.08). The results of the time-to-event analysis as well as the Kaplan-Meier curve on the PPS confirmed this result. We found no differences in secondary surgical operations 15.2 vs 21.4 % pain or functional outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we found no significant difference between the two groups in terms of time to detect wound healing. We also found no difference regarding further operations for wound closure, pain and/or scarring. However, dressing changes were significantly less frequent for patients that were treated with NPWT, which may be a psychological and logistical advantage.

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