Different Surgeon, Different Closure: Lack of Consensus on Appropriate Closure Technique for Various Case Scenarios

Jeffrey Santos*, Patrick T. Delaplain, Philip S. Barie, Justin Dvorak, Tina S. Mele, Rondi Gelbard, Christopher A. Guidry, Sebastian D. Schubl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Many techniques for closure of surgical incisions are available to the surgeon, but there is minimal guidance regarding which technique(s) should be utilized at the conclusion of surgery and under what circumstances. Hypothesis: Management of incisions at the conclusion of surgery lacks consensus and varies among individual surgeons. Methods: The Surgical Infection Society membership was surveyed on the management of incisions at the conclusion of surgery. Several case scenarios were provided to test the influences of operation type, intra-operative contamination, and hemodynamic stability on incision management (e.g., close fascia or skin, use of incision/wound vacuum-Assisted closure [VAC] device). Responses by two-Thirds of participants were required to achieve consensus. Data analysis by χ2 test and logistic regression, a = 0.05. Response heterogeneity was quantified by the Shannon index (SI). Results: Among 78 respondents, consensus was achieved for elective splenectomy (91% close skin/dry dressing). Open appendectomy and left colectomy/end-colostomy had the greatest heterogeneity (SI, 1.68 and 1.63, respectively). During trauma laparotomy, the majority used damage control for hemodynamic instability (53%-67%) but not for hemodynamically stable patients (0%-1.3%; p < 0.001). Additional consensus was achieved for close skin/dry dressing for hemodynamically stable trauma splenectomy patients (87%) and fascia open/wound VAC for hemodynamically unstable colon resection/anastomosis (67%). Fecal diversion for rectal injury and colon resection/anastomosis (both when hemodynamically stable) had high heterogeneity (SI, 1.56 and 1.48, respectively). In penetrating trauma, sentiment was for more use of wet-To-dry dressings and incision/wound VAC with increased contamination in hemodynamically stable patients. Conclusions: Damage control was favored in hemodynamically unstable trauma patients, with use of wet-To-dry dressings and incision/wound VAC with spillage after penetrating trauma. However, most scenarios did not achieve consensus. High variability of practices regarding incision management at the conclusion of surgery was confirmed. Prospective studies and evidence-based guidance are needed to guide decision making at end-operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-548
Number of pages8
JournalSurgical Infections
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • hospital-Acquired infection
  • incision closure
  • incision management
  • surgical decision making
  • surgical site infection


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