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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Topical haemostatic agents for skin wounds: a systematic review

Marieke D Groenewold1, Astrid J Gribnau2 and Dirk T Ubbink3*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Quality Assurance & Process Innovation, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Department of Surgery, Havenziekenhuis, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

3 Departments of Quality Assurance & Process Innovation and Surgery, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Citation and License

BMC Surgery 2011, 11:15  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-11-15

Published: 12 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Various agents and techniques have been introduced to limit intra-operative blood loss from skin lesions. No uniformity regarding the type of haemostasis exists and this is generally based on the surgeon's preference. To study the effectiveness of haemostatic agents, standardized wounds like donor site wounds after split skin grafting (SSG) appear particularly suitable. Thus, we performed a systematic review to assess the effectiveness of haemostatic agents in donor site wounds.

Methods

We searched all randomized clinical trials (RCTs) on haemostasis after SSG in Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library until January 2011. Two reviewers independently assessed trial relevance and quality and performed data analysis. Primary endpoint was effectiveness regarding haemostasis. Secondary endpoints were wound healing, adverse effects, and costs.

Results

Nine relevant RCTs with a fair methodological quality were found, comparing epinephrine, thrombin, fibrin sealant, alginate dressings, saline, and mineral oil. Epinephrine achieved haemostasis significantly faster than thrombin (difference up to 2.5 minutes), saline or mineral oil (up to 6.5 minutes). Fibrin sealant also resulted in an up to 1 minute quicker haemostasis than thrombin and up to 3 minutes quicker than placebo, but was not directly challenged against epinephrine. Adverse effects appeared negligible. Due to lack of clinical homogeneity, meta-analysis was impossible.

Conclusion

According to best available evidence, epinephrine and fibrin sealant appear superior to achieve haemostasis when substantial topical blood loss is anticipated, particularly in case of (larger) SSGs and burn debridement.