Supplemental Oxygen Reduces Infection Risk

Oxygen keeps the wound infections
low; © NCI Visuals Online

Surgical wound infections prolong hospitalisation by an average of one week and substantially increase the cost of care, according to background information in the JAMA article. These infections are possibly the most common serious complication of surgery and anaesthesia. Supplemental oxygen during and after surgery has been variously reported to halve the risk of surgical wound infection.

F. Javier Belda, M.D., Ph.D., of the Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia, Spain, and colleagues conducted a study to determine whether supplemental perioperative oxygen reduces the risk of wound infection. The double-blind, randomised controlled trial included 300 patients aged 18 to 80 years who underwent elective colorectal surgery. Baseline patient characteristics, anaesthetic treatment, and potential confounding factors were recorded. Patients were randomly assigned to an oxygen/air mixture with a concentration of inspired oxygen (Fio2) of 30 percent or 80 percent intraoperatively and for six hours after surgery.

A total of 143 patients received 30 percent perioperative oxygen and 148 received 80 percent perioperative oxygen. Surgical site infection (SSI) occurred in 35 patients (24.4 percent) administered 30 percent Fio2, and in 22 patients (14.9 percent) administered 80 percent Fio2.

“We found that 80 percent supplemental oxygen reduced the risk of SSI by 39 percent. When controlling for multiple contributing factors, the reduction in SSI risk associated with 80 percent Fio2 was nearly 54 percent,” the researchers write.

“Supplemental oxygen appears to confer few risks to the patient, has little associated cost, and should be considered part of ongoing quality improvement activities related to surgical care,” the authors conclude.; Source: JAMA.2005; 294:2091-2092