Best Evidence Topics
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Is conservative management of stab wounds better than wound closure?

Three Part Question

In [adults with uncomplicated stab wounds to soft tissue only] is [conservative management of the wound better than wound closure] in [preventing wound infection]?

Clinical Scenario

A 30 year old male presents to the Emergency Department with multiple stab wounds to soft tissues of chest/ abdomen and limbs. You wonder whether cleaning and allowing to heal by secondary intention is better than wound closure to prevent wound infection.

Search Strategy

MEDLINE 1966 to 03/05, EMBASE 1980 to March 2005, and CINAHL 1982 to March 2005 using OVID interface.
Search 1 [{exp wounds, stabs/ OR knife adj AND exp wound healing/ OR exp suturing/ OR OR exp wound infection/}] Limit to English Language
Search 2 [{exp wounds penetrating/ AND primary secondary}]
1 Stabbing[all fields]
2 Knife and wound[all fields]
3 Wounds and injuries[Mesh]
#1 OR #2 AND #3
General Internet Search Google/Journals

Search Outcome

No papers were found which addressed this three part question.


There are no comparative or randomised trials in this area.

Clinical Bottom Line

Local guidelines should be followed for the management of stab wounds. Research in this area is warranted.