, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 447-455
Date: 30 Oct 2013

Pressurized Pulse Irrigation with Saline Reduces Surgical-site Infections following Major Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery: Randomized Controlled Trial

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Surgical site infections (SSI) are a significant cause of postoperative morbidity. Pressurized pulse irrigation of subcutaneous tissues may lower infection rates by aiding in the debridement of necrotic tissue and reducing bacterial counts compared to simply pouring saline into the wound.


A total of 128 patients undergoing laparotomy extending beyond 2 h were randomized to treatment of wounds by pressurized pulse lavage irrigation (<15 psi) with 2 L normal saline (pulse irrigation group), or to standard irrigation with 2 L normal saline poured into the wound, immediately prior to skin closure (standard group). Only elective cases were included, and all cases were performed within a specialized hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery unit.


There were 62 patients managed by standard irrigation and 68 were managed by pulse irrigation. The groups were comparable in most aspects. Overall there were 16 (13 %) SSI. Significantly fewer SSI occurred in the pulse irrigation group [4 (6 %) vs. 12 (19 %); p = 0.032]. On multivariate analysis, the use of pulse irrigation was the only factor associated with a reduction in SSI with an odds ratio (OR) of 0.3 [95 % confidence interval (95 % CI) 0.1–0.8; p = 0.031]. In contrast, hospital length of stay of greater than 14 days was associated with increased infections with an OR of 7.6 (95 % CI 2.4–24.9; p = 0.001).


Pulse irrigation of laparotomy wounds in operations exceeding 2 h duration reduced SSI after major hepatobiliary pancreatic surgery. (Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12612000170820).