Soap or saline solution? Which is the better procedure for open bone fractures? 3 findings

Allison Sobczak -  

Kyle Jeray, MD, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Greenville Health System in Greenville, S.C., and his colleagues perform a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine to figure out the best way to treat open bone fractures.


The procedure, known as irrigation and debridement, can be done using either soap or saline solution. Infection occurs in 15 percent to 25 percent of patients with open fractures, compared to 1 percent or less of patients whose skin hasn't been broken.


Surgeons use a pulse lavage system that shoots water into the wound at a variety of pressures with either soap or saline solution.


Here are three findings:


1. Researchers found that after studying 2,500 patients, the patients who used saline solution had better outcomes than those who used soap.


2. According to Dr. Jeray, soap is probably caustic to the tissues, muscle and bone, and can end up doing more harm than good, so normal saline is most effective.


3. The re-operation rate for infection problems was 14.8 percent with soap compared to 11.6 percent with saline.


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