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Irrigation of the wounds in open fractures

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Modern principles for the treatment of open fractures include stabilisation of the bone and management of the soft tissues. Wound debridement and irrigation is thought to be the mainstay in reducing the incidence of infection. Although numerous studies on animals and humans have focused on the type of irrigation performed, little is known of the factors which influence irrigation. This paper evaluates the evidence, particularly with regard to additives and the mode of delivery of irrigation fluid.

Normal saline should be used and although many antiseptics and antibiotics have been employed, no consensus has been reached as to the ideal additive. Despite the advocates of high-pressure methods highlighting the improved dilutional ability of such techniques, the results are inconclusive and these irrigation systems are not without complications.

New systems for debridement are currently being investigated, and an ideal method has yet to be determined.

Correspondence should be sent to Professor P. V. Giannoudis; e-mail: pgiannoudi@aol.com

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