No good evidence for cheap, expensive or no dressing for surgical operations

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Goodfellow Gems

"No good evidence for cheap, expensive or no dressing for surgical operations"

In a recent BMJ podcast ‘Uncovering the Uncertainty on Wound Dressing’1 they talked about how in one children’s hospital they did not put dressings on wounds after operations. The interviewed surgeon referred to a Cochrane review which found no clear evidence for one dressing being better than another or no dressing at all for preventing surgical site infections.2

They concluded that decisions on wound dressing should be based on dressing costs and the need for management of specific symptoms e.g. absorption of exudate and whether or not the patient wants a dressing.

 There is some evidence that hydrogel dressings may be superior to basic wound dressings for diabetic foot ulcers but the evidence quality was poor.3

There is a dearth of high quality evidence supporting most dressings for wounds so while we wait perhaps cheapest and context specific will suffice.

This Gem has been checked by Dr Andrew Jull, Associate Professor of Nursing.


  1. BMJ podcast, Uncovering the Uncertainty on Wound Dressing Click here
  2. Dumville JC, Gray TA, Walter CJ, Sharp CA, Page T. Dressings for the prevention of surgical site infection. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 9. Click here
  3. Dumville JC, O'Meara S, Deshpande S, Speak K. Hydrogel dressings for healing diabetic foot ulcers. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013. Click here

Gems are chosen by the Goodfellow director Dr. Bruce Arroll to be either practice changing or practice maintaining. The information is educational and not clinical advice.

As published in NZ Doctor 20/07/2016