Study: Saline Better Than Soap And Water To Clean Wounds

Saline Better Than Soap
Researchers at McMaster University were surprised to find saline was more effective at cleaning wounds than soap and water. Photo by Nataliia Iliuk/Shutterstock

HAMILTON, Ontario, Dec. 17 (UPI) — Soap and water is the standard method of washing wounds before surgery the same as it is at home, however researchers found in a new study that cleaning wounds with a simple saline solution was more effective.

Researchers at McMaster University found very low pressure water effectively cleaned open fracture wounds and prevented infection after surgery, in addition to costing less than soap and water.

“There has been a lot of controversy about the best way to clean the dirt and debris from serious wounds with bone breaks,” said Dr. Mohit Bhandari, a professor of surgery at McMaster University, in a press release.

“All wounds need to be cleaned out — a process known as debridement — but evidence shows that cleaning wounds with soap was not better than just water, which was unexpected.”

Researchers reviewed medical records for 2,447 patients at 41 medical facilities with an open fracture wound in the leg or arm, randomizing them to be cleaned with either soap and water or normal saline, at one of three different water pressures. The patients were then followed for a year after surgery to see if they needed future procedures because of infection at the wound site.

The study showed very low water pressure using saline, rather than soap, better cleaned wounds — 14.8 percent of patients cleaned with soap needed a second operation, compared to 11.6 percent of the group cleaned with saline.

The cost and convenience could be especially significant in low- and middle-income countries where 90 percent of road fatalities occur.


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