Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 4th 2016 Contents A24
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, January 4, 2016
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Many patients may be able to shower just two
days after their operations without increasing their
risk of infections around the incision site, a recent
Even though showering can lift patients spirits,
potentially speeding recovery, concerns about con-
tamination often prompt doctors to advise against
getting wounds wet until stitches are removed, which
can take many days, or even weeks.
But when researchers randomly permitted some
patients with relatively low-risk surgical wounds to
shower 48 hours after their operations, the people
who got to bathe were happier with their care, and
their odds of infection were no different from those
of their unwashed peers.
The findings, along with results from other recent
research, should help convince more doctors to let
patients shower after surgery, said Dr Paul Dayton,
a researcher at Des Moines University and UnityPoint
Health in Iowa who wasn t involved in the study.
sometimes long to
fade away due to
lack of good evi-
dence to support
change, this paper
will certainly help to
drive change," Day-
ton said by email.
"Early water expo-
sure may in fact be
a universally safe
For the current
study, Dr Jin-Shing
Chen of National
Hospital and col-
leagues focused on
patients with rela-
people with infec-
tions, inflammation or injuries caused by outside
objects like bullet or knives entering the body.
The experiment included patients with "clean"
wounds, the lowest-risk category, with no signs of
infection after less invasive operations, and individuals
with so-called "clean-contaminated" wounds, which
are uninfected but involve more complex operations
such as chest, ear or gynecologic procedures.
The researchers enrolled 444 patients having sur-
geries on the thyroid, lung, face, extremities and cer-
tain abdominal hernias. Half the participants could
shower 48 hours after the operations, while the rest
of them had to wait.
Within two weeks of surgery, four patients in the
shower group and six in the unwashed group devel-
oped superficial surgical site infections with redness
and swelling, a difference that was too small to rule
out the possibility that it was due to chance.
All of the patients reported similar levels of pain
after surgery, but the ones who got to shower were
more satisfied with their care.
One shortcoming of the study is that doctors knew
which patients got to shower and which didn t, which
has the potential to influence outcomes, the authors
note in the Annals of Surgery. Researchers also lacked
data on the longer-term infection risk since they
only followed patients for two weeks.
It s also important to note that patients who show-
ered didn t use soap or cleanser at the surgical site
or submerge the wound, noted Dr Heather Evans,
an infectious disease and surgery researcher at the
University of Washington and Harborview Medical
Center in Seattle.
All wounds in the study were also relatively small
and probably weren t under tension that might lead
to conditions that can trigger infections, Evans, who
wasn t involved in the study, added by email.
"I think the take-home message for patients from
this particular study is that showering with water
within 48 hours after elective surgery is safe if the
surgical wound is small, had minimal contamination,
and was primarily closed with (stitches)," Evans said.
Doctors David Ghozland and Marc Winter make an incision in the belly button of
a 49-year-old woman, Sheryl, who had two fibroids, in preparation for a single-
site robotic-assisted hysterectomy at miVIP Surgery Center, in Los Angeles,
California, in April 2014. REUTERS
I think the take-home
message for patients
from this particular
study is that
water within 48
hours after elective
surgery is safe if the
surgical wound is
small, had minimal
was primarily closed.
Dr Heather Evans
More patients may be able to
safely shower after surgery
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