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Evaluation of the patient with a traumatic wound begins with overall patient assessment.1-3 Less obvious but more serious life-threatening injuries need care before directing attention to wound management. Determine the patient’s past medical history and circumstances surrounding the injury.1,2 Remove rings or other circumferential jewelry as soon as possible so they do not act as constricting bands when swelling progresses. Remove clothing over the injured area to reduce the potential for contamination.

External bleeding can usually be controlled by focal direct pressure over the bleeding site. When possible, replace skin flaps to their original position before applying pressure in order to avoid exacerbating vascular compromise. Tourniquet application may be necessary to stop life-threatening exsanguination or when needed for a short period to create a “bloodless” field for wound inspection.4,5 Amputated fingers or extremities should be wrapped with a moist, sterile, protective dressing, placed in a waterproof bag, and then placed in a container of ice water for preservation and consideration for future reattachment. Before wound exploration, cleansing, and repair, most patients will need some form of anesthesia.6 Systemic analgesia or procedural sedation may be required (see Chapter 35, “Acute Pain Management,” and Chapter 37, “Procedural Sedation and Analgesia in Adults”).


Proper wound management begins with a pertinent patient history (Table 39-1).1,2 A variety of patient factors have adverse effects on wound healing and increase the rate of wound infection—extremes of age, diabetes mellitus, chronic renal failure, obesity, malnutrition, the use of immunosuppressive medications, the presence of connective tissue disorders, and protein and vitamin C deficiencies.1 Predictive factors for infection are the wound characteristics of mechanism of injury, location, depth, length, configuration, and contamination.7-9

TABLE 39-1Pertinent Medical History

Ascertain the tendency of patients to form hypertrophic scars or keloids by both history and examination, as past experience may predict poor scar formation. Black and Asian patients are more prone to keloid ...

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