Cotton swabs help prevent surgical site infections
Cotton swabs offer a cheap, effective way of reducing surgical site infections.
More than 500,000 surgical site infections occur yearly. They account for nearly one-quarter of hospital-acquired infections and are a major cause of illness and death in hospital patients. Surgical site infections most commonly occur when patients have "dirty" or contaminated wounds, such as after a trauma, bowel surgery, or perforated appendicitis. Until now, no preventative treatment at the contaminated wound site - including topical antibiotics, under-the-skin wound drains or delayed closure of the wound - has proven to reliably decrease these infections.
Researchers from America conducted a study and found that the daily use of dry cotton swabs to gently probe the incision sites of patients who'd undergone appendectomy dramatically reduced surgical site infections. All study participants had undergone an appendectomy for a perforated appendicitis. Half of the 76 patients had their incisions loosely closed with staples, then swabbed daily with iodine (the control group). The study group had their incisions loosely closed. Then, their wounds were probed gently between surgical staples with a dry, sterile cotton tip applicator each day.
Only 3 percent of patients who underwent the daily routine developed infections, compared with 19 percent of patients in a control group whose incision sites were swabbed with iodine. Patients in the cotton swab group also had less postoperative pain, much shorter hospital stays (five versus seven days), and better cosmetic healing of their incisions.
The researchers believe that using cotton swabs to probe the incision site enables contaminated fluid trapped within soft tissues to drain. This may reduce the amount of bacteria in the wound while maintaining the moist environment needed for successful wound healing.
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