| Risk Factors
Wound dehiscence is the parting of the layers of a surgical wound. Either the surface layers separate or the whole wound splits open. This is a serious condition and requires care from your doctor.
Wound dehiscence varies depending on the kind of surgery you have. The following is a list of generalized causes:
- Infection at the wound
- Pressure on sutures
- Sutures too tight
- Injury to the wound area
- Weak tissue or muscle at the wound area
- Incorrect suture technique used to close operative area
- Poor closure technique at the time of surgery
- Use of high-dose or long-term corticosteroids
Severe vitamin C deficiency—scurvy
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Factors that may increase your chance of wound dehiscence include:
- Increasing age
- Poor nutrition
- Malignant growth
- Presence of prior scar or radiation at the incision site
- Non-compliance with post-operative instructions (such as early excessive exercise or lifting heavy objects)
- Surgical error
- Increased pressure within the abdomen, which can occur with fluid accumulation ascites, inflamed bowel, or severe coughing, straining, or vomiting
- Long-term use of corticosteroid medications
Other medical conditions, such as
kidney disease, cancer, immune problems, chemotherapy, or
Wound dehiscence may cause:
- Broken sutures
- Open wound
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine the surgical area. Tests may include the following:
Laboratory tests, such as:
- Wound and tissue cultures to determine if there is an infection
- Blood tests to determine if there is an infection
Imaging tests, such as:
Treatment may include:
Antibiotics if an infection is present or possible
- Frequent changes in wound dressing to prevent infection—when appropriate
- Wound exposure to air to accelerate healing and prevent infection, and allow growth of new tissue from below—when appropriate
- Remove contaminated and/or dead tissue
- Resuture the wound
- Place a temporary or permanent piece of mesh to bridge the gap in the wound
To help reduce your chance of wound dehiscence:
- When appropriate, have antibiotic therapy prior to surgery
- When appropriate, have antibiotic therapy after surgery
- When using wound dressing, maintain light pressure on wound
- Keep wound area clean
- Comply with post-operative instructions
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DeCherney AH, Nathan L.
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Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary.
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The Merck Manual of Medical Information Home Edition.
2nd ed. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories; 2004.
Schwartz S, Brunicardi F, et al.
Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2007.
Surgical site infection—prevention. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T316886/Surgical-site-infection-prevention. Updated August 22, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
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