Abdominal incisions: transverse vs vertical placement and continuous vs interrupted closure

H H Stone, S J Hoefling, P R Strom, W E Dunlop, T C Fabian
Southern Medical Journal 1983, 76 (9): 1106-8
A previous retrospective review of 2,006 emergency laparotomies had suggested that anesthesia and operative times could be reduced by using a continuous stitch closure for all layers of the incision. A prospective, randomized study was then implemented through use of odd/even digits in the last and next-to-last digits in the hospital number. Of 551 patients subjected to laparotomy because of abdominal trauma, no intraperitoneal injury was found in 212. There was no statistically significant difference in time expended or complications (wound or other, including pulmonary) on contrasting transverse (101) with vertical (111) incisions, or on comparing continuous (104) and interrupted (108) closure, with the exception of an average 26 minutes in time saved by a continuous suture (P = .02). Analysis of these same factors in 339 patients with trauma found at laparotomy could document no statistically significant difference. Such data support the use of a running suture for closure of the abdominal wall as a practical method to save anesthesia and operating time without increased risk of developing a wound or other postoperative complication.

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