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Irrigation of simple lacerations with tap water or sterile saline in the emergency department did not differ for wound infections

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Q In patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with simple lacerations, is wound irrigation with tap water equivalent to irrigation with sterile saline for wound infections?


Embedded ImageDesign:

randomised controlled trial.

Embedded ImageAllocation:


Embedded ImageBlinding:

blinded (outcome assessors).

Embedded ImageFollow-up period:

5–14 days after wound closure.

Embedded ImageSetting:

2 urban trauma centres and 1 suburban community hospital in the US.

Embedded ImagePatients:

713 patients >17 years of age who presented to the ED with acute uncomplicated skin lacerations requiring staples or sutures. Exclusion criteria were puncture or bite wounds; self inflicted wounds; grossly contaminated wounds; wounds >8 hours old; wounds involving tendon, joint, or bone; diabetes; significant peripheral vascular disease; HIV or immunocompromised conditions; use of antibiotics or corticosteroids; or pregnancy. …

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  • For correspondence: Dr R M Moscati, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA. moscati{at}

  • Sources of funding: in part, Federal Highway Administration through the Center for Transportation Injury Research and Calspan University at Buffalo Research Center.