Publications by authors named "Lisa Capano-Wehrle"

12 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Expeditious Diagnosis and Laparotomy for Patients with Acute Abdominal Compartment Syndrome May Improve Survival.

Am Surg 2018 Nov;84(11):1836-1840

Causes of abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS) are varied and can result from both medical and surgical diseases. Early recognition of ACS and prompt surgical treatment has been shown to improve mortality. We hypothesize that earlier recognition of ACS and earlier involvement by surgical specialists may improve mortality. A retrospective review between July 2010 and July 2015 was performed of adult patients who underwent decompressive laparotomy for ACS. Patients were divided into surgical and medical intensive care units (SICU and MICU) arms. Twenty patients were included (MICU = 12; SICU = 8) without significant difference between the groups. Median time from admission to suspicion for MICU patients was 60 hours 13 hours for SICU patients ( = 0.013). Time from suspicion to surgical consult was 60 minutes 0 minutes, respectively ( = 0.003), however, time from surgical consult to intervention was not different. Mortality rate in the MICU was 83 per cent 12.5 per cent in the SICU ( = 0.005). Patients in the SICU who developed ACS were more quickly diagnosed than those in the MICU. These patients had a shorter time from suspicion of ACS to surgical consultation and eventual surgical intervention, and was associated with improved survival. A multidisciplinary approach, including early surgical consultation, for patients in whom there is a suspicion of ACS may contribute to improved mortality.
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November 2018

Financial Impact of Minor Injury Transfers on a Level 1 Trauma Center.

J Surg Res 2019 01 18;233:403-407. Epub 2018 Sep 18.

Division of Trauma, Department of Surgery, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, New Jersey.

Background: Trauma centers frequently accept patients from other institutions who are being sent due to the need for a higher level of care. We hypothesized that patients with minor traumatic injuries who are transferred from outside institutions would impart a negative financial impact on the receiving trauma center.

Methods: We performed a retrospective review of all trauma patients admitted to our urban level I trauma center from October 1, 2011, through September 30, 2013. Patients were categorized as minor trauma if they did not require operation within 24 h of arrival, did not require ICU admission, did not die, and had a hospital length of stay <24 h. Transferred patients and nontransfers (those received directly from the field) were compared with respect to injury severity, insurance status, and hospital net margin. Student's t-test and z-test for proportions were performed for data analysis.

Results: A total of 6951 trauma patients were identified (transfer n = 2228, nontransfer n = 4724). Minor injury transfers (n = 440) were compared to nontransfers (n = 689). Hospital net margin of transferred patients and nontransferred patients were $2227 and $2569, respectively (P = 0.22). Percentages of uninsured/underinsured for transfers and nontransfers were 27.3% and 36.1%, respectively (P = 0.002).

Conclusions: During our study period, 19.7% of transfers and 14.6% of nontransfers can be categorized as having minor trauma. Minor trauma transfer patients are associated with a positive hospital net margin for the trauma center that is similar to that of the nontransfer group. The data also demonstrate a lower percentage of uninsured/underinsured in the transferred group.
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January 2019

Contemporary management of subclavian and axillary artery injuries-A Western Trauma Association multicenter review.

J Trauma Acute Care Surg 2017 12;83(6):1023-1031

From the Department of General Surgery, Gundersen Health System (C.J.W., T.H.C.), Department of Medical Research, Gundersen Medical Foundation (K.J.K., L.D.R.), La Crosse, WI; Division of General Surgery, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Ben Taub Hospital (J.M.C., S.R.T.), Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX; Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma & Critical Care Medical College of Wisconsin (K.J.C., M.A.B.), Milwaukee, WI; Division of General Surgery and Trauma, Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (J.L.S., V.P.A.), Pittsburgh, PA; Department of Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina (E.A.E., S.M.L.), Charleston, SC; Division of Acute Care Surgical Services, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine (R.J.A.), Richmond, VA; Department of Surgery, Cooper University Hospital (M.P., L.C-W.), Camden, NJ; Department of Surgery, Denver Health Medical Center (C.C.B., C.J.F.), Denver, CO; Department of Surgery, Marshfield Clinic (D.C.C., J.C.R.), Marshfield, WI; Trauma Services, Wesley Medical Center (P.B.H., G.M.B.), Wichita, KS; and Department of Trauma Services, Via Christi Hospital on Saint Francis (J.M.H., K.L.), Wichita, KS.

Background: Subclavian and axillary artery injuries are uncommon. In addition to many open vascular repairs, endovascular techniques are used for definitive repair or vascular control of these anatomically challenging injuries. The aim of this study was to determine the relative roles of endovascular and open techniques in the management of subclavian and axillary artery injuries comparing hospital outcomes, and long-term limb viability.

Methods: A multicenter, retrospective review of patients with subclavian or axillary artery injuries from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2014, was completed at 11 participating Western Trauma Association institutions. Statistical analysis included χ, t-tests, and Cochran-Armitage trend tests. A p value less than 0.05 was significant.

Results: Two hundred twenty-three patients were included; mean age was 36 years, 84% were men. An increase in computed tomography angiography and decrease in conventional angiography was observed over time (p = 0.018). There were 120 subclavian and 119 axillary artery injuries. Procedure type was associated with injury grade (p < 0.001). Open operations were performed in 135 (61%) patients, including 93% of greater than 50% circumference lacerations and 83% of vessel transections. Endovascular repairs were performed in 38 (17%) patients; most frequently for pseudoaneurysms. Fourteen (6%) patients underwent a hybrid procedure. Use of endovascular versus open procedures did not increase over the duration of the study (p = 0.248). In-hospital mortality rate was 10%. Graft or stent thrombosis occurred in 7% and graft or stent infection occurred in 3% of patients. Mean follow-up was 1.6 ± 2.4 years (n = 150). Limb salvage was achieved in 216 (97%) patients.

Conclusion: The management of subclavian and axillary artery injuries still requires a wide variety of open exposures and procedures, especially for the control of active hemorrhage from more than 50% vessel lacerations and transections. Endovascular repairs were used most often for pseudoaneurysms. Low early complication rates and limb salvage rates of 97% were observed after open and endovascular repairs.

Level Of Evidence: Prognostic/epidemiologic, level IV.
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December 2017

Caring for critically injured children: An analysis of 56 pediatric damage control laparotomies.

J Trauma Acute Care Surg 2017 05;82(5):901-909

From the Department of Surgery (M.A.V., R.L.C.), Division of Trauma (J.P.H., L.C.-W., S.E.R.), Cooper Research Institute (K.H., J.P.G.), Cooper University Hospital, Camden, New Jersey; and Division of Trauma (M.J.S.), Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Background: Injury is the leading cause of death in children under 18 years. Damage control principles have been extensively studied in adults but remain relatively unstudied in children. Our primary study objective was to evaluate the use of damage control laparotomy (DCL) in critically injured children.

Methods: An American College of Surgeons-verified Level 1 trauma center review (1996-2013) of pediatric trauma laparotomies was undertaken. Exclusion criteria included: age older than 18 years, laparotomy for abdominal compartment syndrome or delayed longer than 2 hours after admission. Demographics, mechanism, resuscitation variables, injuries, need for DCL, and outcomes were evaluated. Independent t test, Mann-Whitney U test, Fisher's exact test, and single-factor analysis of variance assessed statistical significance. Study endpoints were hospital survival and DCL complications.

Results: Of 371 children who underwent trauma laparotomy, the median age (IQR; LQ-UQ) age was 16 (5; 11-17) years. Most (73%) were male injured by blunt mechanism (65%). Fifty-six (15%) children (Injury Severity Score [ISS], 33 (25; 17-42), pediatric trauma score 5 (6; 2-8), penetrating abdominal trauma index score [PATI] 29 (32; 12-44)) underwent DCL after major solid organ (63%), vascular (36%), thoracic (38%) and pelvic (36%) injury. DCL patients were older (16.5 (4; 14-18) vs. 16 (7; 10-17)) and were more severely injured (ISS, 33 [25; 17-42] vs. 16 [16; 9-25]), requiring greater intraoperative packed red blood cell transfusion (8 [13; 3.5-16.5] vs. 1 (0; [0-1] units) than definitive laparotomy counterparts. Nonsurvivors arrived in severe physiologic compromise (base deficit, 17 [17; 8-25] vs. 7 [4; 4-8]), requiring more frequent preoperative blood product transfusion (67% vs. 10%) after comparable injury (ISS survivors, 36 [23; 18-41] vs. nonsurvivors 26 (7; 25-32), p = 0.8880). Fifty-five percent of DCL patients survived (length of stay, 26 [21; 18-39] days) requiring 3 (2; 2-4) laparotomies during 4 (6; 2-8) days until closure (fascial, 90%; vicryl/split thickness skin grafting, 10%). DCL complications (surgical site infection, 18%; dehiscence, 2%; enterocutaneous fistula, 2%) were analyzed. When stratified by age (<15 years vs. 15-18 years) and period (1996-2006 vs. 2007-2013), no differences were found in injury severity or DCL outcomes (p > 0.05). After controlling for DCL, age, and gender, multivariate analysis indicated only ISS (odds ratio, 1.10 [95% confidence interval, 1.01 - 1.19], p = 0.0218) and arrival systolic blood pressure (odds ratio, 0.96 [95% confidence interval, 0.93-0.99], p = 0.0254) predicted mortality after severe injury.

Conclusion: DCL is a proven, lifesaving surgical technique in adults. This report is the first to analyze the use of DCL in children with critical abdominal injuries. With similar survival and morbidity rates as critically injured adults, DCL merits careful consideration in children with critical abdominal injuries.

Level Of Evidence: Therapeutic study, level IV.
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May 2017

Intra-abdominal packing with laparotomy pads and QuikClot™ during damage control laparotomy: A safety analysis.

Injury 2017 Jan 21;48(1):158-164. Epub 2016 Jul 21.

Division of Trauma, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States. Electronic address:

Background: Intra-abdominal packing with laparotomy pads (LP) is a common and rapid method for hemorrhage control in critically injured patients. Combat Gauze™ and Trauma Pads™ ([QC] Z-Medica QuikClot) are kaolin impregnated hemostatic agents, that in addition to LP, may improve hemorrhage control. While QC packing has been effective in a swine liver injury model, QC remains unstudied for human intra-abdominal use. We hypothesized QC packing during damage control laparotomy (DCL) better controls hemorrhage than standard packing and is safe for intracorporeal use.

Methods: A retrospective review (2011-2014) at a Level-I Trauma Center reviewed all patients who underwent DCL with intentionally retained packing. Clinical characteristics, intraoperative and postoperative parameters, and outcomes were compared with respect to packing (LP vs. LP+QC). All complications occurring within the patients' hospital stays were reviewed. A p≤0.05 was considered significant.

Results: 68 patients underwent DCL with packing; (LP n=40; LP+QC n=28). No difference in age, BMI, injury mechanism, ISS, or GCS was detected (Table 1, all p>0.05). LP+QC patients had a lower systolic blood pressure upon ED presentation and greater blood loss during index laparotomy than LP patients. LP+QC patients received more packed red blood cell and fresh frozen plasma resuscitation during index laparotomy (both p<0.05). Despite greater physiologic derangement in the LP+QC group, there was no difference in total blood products required after index laparotomy until abdominal closure (LP vs LP+QC; p>0.05). After a median of 2days until abdominal closure in both groups, no difference in complications rates attributable to intra-abdominal packing (LP vs LP+QC) was detected.

Conclusion: While the addition of QC to LP packing did not confer additional benefit to standard packing, there was no additional morbidity identified with its use. The surgeons at our institution now select augmented packing with QC for sicker patients, as we believe this may have additional advantage over standard LP packing. A randomized controlled trial is warranted to further evaluate the intra-abdominal use of advanced hemostatic agents, like QC, for both hemostasis and associated morbidity.
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January 2017

The impact of a multidisciplinary safety checklist on adverse procedural events during bedside bronchoscopy-guided percutaneous tracheostomy.

J Trauma Acute Care Surg 2015 Jul;79(1):111-5; discussion 115-6

From the Division of Trauma (J.P.H., E.C.O., L.M.C.-W., M.T.L., S.E.R.), Department of Surgery (A.M.C.), and Cooper Research Institute (K.H.), Cooper University Hospital, Camden, New Jersey; and Division of Traumatology, Surgical Critical Care and Emergency Surgery (M.J.S.), Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Background: Bedside procedures are seldom subject to the same safety precautions as operating room (OR) procedures. Since July 2013, we have performed a multidisciplinary checklist before all bedside bronchoscopy-guided percutaneous tracheostomy insertions (BPTIs). We hypothesized that the implementation of this checklist before BPTI would decrease adverse procedural events.

Methods: A prospective study of all patients who underwent BPTI after checklist implementation (PostCL, 2013-2014, n = 63) at our Level I trauma center were compared to all patients (retrospectively reviewed historical controls) who underwent BPTI without the checklist (PreCL, 2010-2013, n = 184). Exclusion criteria included age less than 16 years, OR, and open tracheostomy. The checklist included both a procedural and timeout component with the trauma technician, respiratory therapist, nurse, and surgeon. Demographics and variables focusing on BPTI risk factors were compared. Variables associated with the primary end point, adverse procedural events, during univariate analysis were used in the multiple variable logistic regression model. A p ≤ 0.05 was significant.

Results: Of 247 study sample patients, no difference existed in body mass index, baseline mean arterial pressure, duration or mode of mechanical ventilation, cervical spine or maxillofacial injury, or previous neck surgery between PreCL and PostCL BPTI patients. PreCL patients were younger (48 [20] years vs. 57 [21] years, p < 0.01) but more often had adverse procedural events compared with PostCL patients (PreCL,14.1% vs. PostCL,3.2%, p = 0.020). After adjusting for age, vitals, BPTI risk factors, and intensive care unit duration after BPTI, multiple variable logistic regression determined that performing the safety checklist alone was independently associated with a 580% reduction in adverse procedural events (odds ratio, 5.8; p = 0.022).

Conclusion: Our results suggest that the implementation of a multidisciplinary safety checklist similar to those used in the OR would benefit patients during invasive bedside procedures.

Level Of Evidence: Therapeutic/care management study, level IV.
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July 2015

Emergency central venous catheterization during trauma resuscitation: a safety analysis by site.

Am Surg 2015 May;81(5):527-31

Division of Trauma Surgery, Department of Surgery, Cooper University Hospital and Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, Camden, New Jersey, USA.

Central venous catheterization (CVC) is often necessary during initial trauma resuscitations, but may cause complications including catheter-related blood stream infection (CRBSI), deep venous thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary emboli (PE), arterial injury, or pneumothoraces. Our primary objective compared subclavian versus femoral CVC complications during initial trauma resuscitations. A retrospective review (2010-2011) at an urban, Level-I Trauma Center reviewed CVCs during initial trauma resuscitations. Demographics, clinical characteristics, and complications including: CRBSIs, DVTs, arterial injuries, pneumothoraces, and PEs were analyzed. Fisher's exact test and Student's t test were used; P ≤ 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Overall, 504 CVCs were placed (subclavian, n = 259; femoral, n = 245). No difference in age (47 ± 22 vs 45 ± 23 years) or body mass index (28 ± 6 vs 29 ± 16 kg/m(2)) was detected (P > 0.05) in subclavian vs femoral CVC, but subclavian CVCs had more blunt injuries (81% vs 69%), greater systolic blood pressure (95 ± 55 vs 83 ± 43 mmHg), greater Glasgow Coma Scale (10 ± 5 vs 9 ± 5), and less introducers (49% vs 73%) than femoral CVCs (all P < 0.05). Catheter related arterial injuries, PEs, and CRBSIs were similar in subclavian and femoral groups (3% vs 2%, 0% vs 1%, and 3% vs 3%; all P > 0.05). Catheter-related DVTs occurred in 2 per cent of subclavian and 9 per cent of femoral CVCs (P < 0.001). There was a 3 per cent occurrence of pneumothorax in the subclavian CVC population. In conclusion, both subclavian and femoral CVCs caused significant complications. Subclavian catheter-related pneumothoraces occurred more commonly and femoral CRBSIs less commonly than expected compared with prior literature in nonemergent scenarios. This suggests that femoral CVC may be safer than subclavian CVC during initial trauma resuscitations.
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May 2015

Comparison of atriocaval shunting with perihepatic packing versus perihepatic packing alone for retrohepatic vena cava injuries in a swine model.

Injury 2015 Sep 15;46(9):1759-64. Epub 2015 Apr 15.

Division of Traumatology, Surgical Critical Care and Emergency Surgery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States. Electronic address:

Background: Retrohepatic vena cava (RVC) injuries are technically challenging and often lethal. Atriocaval shunting has been promoted as a modality to control haemorrhage from these injuries, but evidence from controlled studies supporting its benefit is lacking. We hypothesised that addition of an atriocaval shunt to perihepatic packing would improve outcomes in our penetrating RVC injury swine model.

Methods: After a survivable atriocaval shunting model was refined in 4 swine without an injury, 13 additional female Yorkshire swine were randomised into either perihepatic packing and atriocaval shunt (PPAS, n=7) or perihepatic packing alone (PP, n=6) treatment arms prior to creating a standardised, 1.5 cm stab wound to the RVC. Haemodynamic parameters, intravenous fluid, and blood loss were recorded until mortality or euthanisation after 4h. Statistical tests used to test differences include the Wilcoxon rank sums test, Fisher exact test and analysis of covariance. A p-value ≤0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: Immediately before and after RVC injury, no difference in temperature, cardiac output, heart rate, mean arterial pressure or mean pulmonary artery pressure was detected (all p>0.05) between the two groups. While the RVC injury did affect measures parameters in PPAS swine over time, haemodynamic compromise and blood loss were not significantly greater in PPAS than PP swine. Survival time was significantly different with all PPAS swine dying within 2h (mean survival duration 39 (SD 58)min) while all 6 PP swine survived the entire 4h study period.

Conclusions: While perihepatic packing alone slowed haemorrhage to survivable rates during the 4h study period, atriocaval shunt placement led to rapid physiologic decline and death in our standardised, penetrating RVC model.
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September 2015

Blunt abdominal aortic injury: a Western Trauma Association multicenter study.

J Trauma Acute Care Surg 2014 Dec;77(6):879-85; discussion 885

From the Division of Vascular Surgery (S.S., B.W.S.), Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center (M.L.B.), University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland; Department of Surgery (W.L.B., G.J.J.), Denver Health Medical Center and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, Colorado; Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery (A.A.), University of Texas Medical School at Houston; and Department of Surgery (R.A.K.), University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas; Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care (K.I., D.S.), Department of Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center, Los Angeles; and Community Regional Medical Center (K.L.K.), Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco-Fresno Campus, Fresno, California; Division of Trauma and Critical Care (B.Z., C.N.), Department of Surgery, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee; Division of General Surgery (E.A.E., S.M.F.), Department of Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina; Division of Trauma and Critical Care (J.S.P.), Department of Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Department of Surgery (D.J.C.), University of South Florida Colleges of Medicine, Tampa, Florida; Department of Surgery (S.R.T.), New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, New York; Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care (M.J.S., L.M.C.-W.), Department of Surgery, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, New Jersey.

Background: Blunt abdominal aortic injury (BAAI) is a rare injury. The objective of the current study was to examine the presentation and management of BAAI at a multi-institutional level.

Methods: The Western Trauma Association Multi-Center Trials conducted a study of BAAI from 1996 to 2011. Data collected included demographics, injury mechanism, associated injuries, interventions, and complications.

Results: Of 392,315 blunt trauma patients, 113 (0.03%) presented with BAAI at 12 major trauma centers (67% male; median age, 38 years; range, 6-88; median Injury Severity Score [ISS], 34; range, 16-75). The leading cause of injury was motor vehicle collisions (60%). Hypotension was documented in 47% of the cases. The most commonly associated injuries were spine fractures (44%) and pneumothorax/hemothorax (42%). Solid organ, small bowel, and large bowel injuries occurred in 38%, 35%, and 28% respectively. BAAI presented as free aortic rupture (32%), pseudoaneurysm (16%), and injuries without aortic external contour abnormality on computed tomography such as large intimal flaps (34%) or intimal tears (18%). Open and endovascular repairs were undertaken as first-choice therapy in 43% and 15% of cases, respectively. Choice of management varied by type of BAAI: 89% of intimal tears were managed nonoperatively, and 96% of aortic ruptures were treated with open repair. Overall mortality was 39%, the majority (68%) occurring in the first 24 hours because of hemorrhage or cardiac arrest. The highest mortality was associated with Zone II aortic ruptures (92%). Follow-up was documented in 38% of live discharges.

Conclusion: This is the largest BAAI series reported to date. BAAI presents as a spectrum of injury ranging from minimal aortic injury to aortic rupture. Nonoperative management is successful in uncomplicated cases without external aortic contour abnormality on computed tomography. Highest mortality occurred in free aortic ruptures, suggesting that alternative measures of early noncompressible torso hemorrhage control are warranted.

Level Of Evidence: Epidemiologic study, level III; therapeutic study, level IV.
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December 2014

Skin closure after trauma laparotomy in high-risk patients: opening opportunities for improvement.

J Trauma Acute Care Surg 2013 Feb;74(2):433-9; discussion 439-40

Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, Department of Surgery, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, New Jersey 08103, USA.

Background: Although many surgeons leave laparotomy incisions open after colon injury to prevent surgical site infection (SSI), other injured patient subsets are also at risk. We hypothesized that leaving trauma laparotomy skin incisions open in high-risk patients with any enteric injury or requiring damage control laparotomy (DCL) would not affect superficial SSI and fascial dehiscence rates.

Methods: Patients who underwent trauma laparotomy (2004-2008) at two Level I centers were reviewed. To ensure a high-risk sample, only patients with transmural enteric injuries or need for DCL surviving 5 days or more were included. SSIs were categorized by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) criteria and risk factors were analyzed by skin closure (open vs. any closure). Significant (p < 0.05) univariate variables were applied to two multivariate analyses examining superficial SSI and fascial dehiscence.

Results: Of 1,501 patients who underwent laparotomy, 503 met inclusion criteria. Patients were young (median, 28.0 years; range, 22.0-40.0 years) with penetrating (74%) or enteric (80%) injuries, and DCL (36%) and SSI (44%; superficial, 25%; deep, 3%; organ/space, 25%) were common. While no difference in superficial SSI after loose (n = 136) or complete skin closure (n = 224) was detected (p = 0.64), superficial SSIs were less common with open skin incisions (9.8%), despite multiple risk factors, than with any skin closure (31.1%, p < 0.001). Predictors of superficial SSIs and fascial dehiscence were each evaluated with multiple-variable logistic regression analysis. After adjusting for multiple potential confounding variables, any skin closure increased the risk of superficial SSIs approximately nine times (odds ratio, 8.6; p < 0.001) and fascial dehiscence six times (odds ratio, 5.7; p = 0.013).

Conclusion: Management of skin incisions takes careful consideration like any other step of a laparotomy. Our results suggest that the decision to leave skin open is one simple method to improve outcomes in high-risk patients.

Level Of Evidence: Therapeutic study, level III.
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February 2013

Management of pediatric skin abscesses in pediatric, general academic and community emergency departments.

West J Emerg Med 2011 May;12(2):159-67

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Camden, NJ.

Objectives: To compare the evaluation and management of pediatric cutaneous abscess patients at three different emergency department (ED) settings.

Method: We conducted a retrospective cohort study at two academic pediatric hospital EDs, a general academic ED and a community ED in 2007, with random sampling of 100 patients at the three academic EDs and inclusion of 92 patients from the community ED. Eligible patients were ≤18 years who had a cutaneous abscess. We recorded demographics, predisposing conditions, physical exam findings, incision and drainage procedures, therapeutics and final disposition. Laboratory data were reviewed for culture results and antimicrobial sensitivities. For subjects managed as outpatients from the ED, we determined where patients were instructed to follow up and, using electronic medical records, ascertained the proportion of patients who returned to the ED for further management.

Result: Of 392 subjects, 59% were female and the median age was 7.7 years. Children at academic sites had larger abscesses compared to community patients, (3.5 versus 2.5 cm, p=0.02). Abscess incision and drainage occurred in 225 (57%) children, with the lowest rate at the academic pediatric hospital EDs (51%) despite the relatively larger abscess size. Procedural sedation and the collection of wound cultures were more frequent at the academic pediatric hospital and the general academic EDs. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) prevalence did not differ among sites; however, practitioners at the academic pediatric hospital EDs (92%) and the general academic ED (86%) were more likely to initiate empiric MRSA antibiotic therapy than the community site (71%), (p<0.0001). At discharge, children who received care at the community ED were more likely to be given a prescription for a narcotic (23%) and told to return to the ED for ongoing wound care (65%). Of all sites, the community ED also had the highest percentage of follow-up visits (37%).

Conclusion: Abscess management varied among the three settings, with more conservative antibiotic selection and greater implementation of procedural sedation at academic centers and higher prescription rates for narcotics, self-referrals for ongoing care and patient follow-up visits at the community ED.
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May 2011

Topical anesthetic cream is associated with spontaneous cutaneous abscess drainage in children.

Am J Emerg Med 2012 Jan 3;30(1):104-9. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Department of Emergency Medicine, UMDNJ-RWJMS at Camden, One Cooper Plaza, Camden, NJ 08103, USA.

Objective: The objective of the study was to determine whether use of topical anesthetic cream increases spontaneous drainage of skin abscesses and reduces the need for procedural sedation.

Methods: A retrospective multicenter cohort study from 3 academic pediatric emergency departments was conducted for randomly selected children with a cutaneous abscess in 2007. Children up to 18 years of age were eligible if they had a skin abscess at presentation. Demographics, abscess characteristics, and use of a topical analgesic were obtained from medical records.

Results: Of 300 subjects, 58% were female and the median age was 7.8 years (interquartile range, 2-15 years). Mean abscess size was 3.5 ± 2.4 cm, most commonly located on the lower extremity (30%), buttocks (24%), and face (12%). A drainage procedure was required in 178 children, of whom 9 underwent drainage in the operating room. Of the remaining 169 children who underwent emergency department-based drainage, 110 (65%) had a topical anesthetic agent with an occlusive dressing placed on their abscess before drainage. Use of a topical anesthetic resulted in spontaneous abscess drainage in 26 patients, of whom 3 no longer required any further intervention. In the 166 patients who underwent additional manipulation, procedural sedation was required in 26 (24%) of those who had application of a topical anesthetic and in 24 (41%) of those who had no topical anesthetic (odds ratio, 0.45; 95% confidence interval, 0.23-0.89).

Conclusions: Topical anesthetic cream application before drainage procedures promotes spontaneous drainage and decreases the need for procedural sedation for pediatric cutaneous abscess patients.
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January 2012