Post-Colic Surgery Stent Bandage Prevents Incisional Infection (AAEP 2012)

Applying a stent bandage--a thick, non-adhesive bandage attached by sutures over the incision line--following colic surgery in the horse can dramatically decrease the risk of incisional infection said Aziz Tnibar, DVM, PhD, DECVS of the Department of Large Animal Sciences of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Speaking at the Annual Convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Dec 1-5, 2012 in Anaheim, Calif., Tnibar presented findings of a comparative retrospective study evaluating the effects of stent bandage placement following colic surgery in the horse.

Tnibar and his colleagues found that horses with stent bandages placed prior to anesthetic recovery were more than eight times less likely to develop infections of the incision than were horses without stent bandages.

135 horses that had undergone abdominal surgery via a ventral midline approach and that had survived more than 10 days post-surgery were included in the study. Horses were assigned to one of two groups based on whether a stent bandage had been placed following surgery. Bandages were left in place for as many as five days with daily disinfection of the stent sutures, then followed by a flat belly band.

Surgeons were randomly distributed across the two groups, so the effect of the surgeon on post-operative infection was thought to be negligible for this study. Outcomes were assessed on the basis of "infected" or "non-infected." Tnibar reported a 2.7% infection rate in the stent group vs. a 21.8% infection rate in the non-stent group. These numbers vary slightly from the published abstract of the study which reports a 4% infection rate in the stent group and a 23% infection rate in the non-stent group. This discrepancy occurred due to the exclusion of a few animals from the published results. However, by either report, placement of a stent bandage prior to anesthetic recovery dramatically lessened the incidence of incisional infection.

According to Tnibar, the stent bandage appears to create an ideal environment for healing by decreasing the tension upon the suture line, reducing swelling, and protecting the incision from external contamination.

Because this was a retrospective study in which Tnibar and colleagues relied on data from existing cases, he suggested that researchers would need to conduct a randomized, controlled study to accurately assess the specific effect of a post-surgical stent bandage. "This study showed that the use of a stent bandage significantly reduced the likelihood of incisional infections in horses undergoing colic surgery," he summarized, noting that a scientific paper related to this study will be published soon in the Equine Veterinary Journal.

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