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Water for wound cleansing.

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Background

    Although various solutions have been recommended for cleansing wounds, normal saline is favoured as it is an isotonic solution and is not thought to interfere with the normal healing process. Tap water is commonly used in community settings for cleansing wounds because it is easily accessible, efficient and cost-effective; however, there is an unresolved debate about its use.

    Objectives

    To assess the effects of water for wound cleansing.

    Search methods

    For this fifth update, in May 2021 we searched the Cochrane Wounds Specialised Register; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); Ovid MEDLINE; Ovid Embase and EBSCO CINAHL Plus. We also searched clinical trials registries for ongoing and unpublished studies, and scanned reference lists of relevant included studies as well as reviews, meta-analyses and health technology reports to identify additional studies. There were no restrictions with respect to language, date of publication or study setting.

    Selection criteria

    We included all randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that assessed wound cleansing using different types of water (e.g. tap water, distilled, boiled) compared with no cleansing or with other solutions (e.g. normal saline). For this update, we excluded quasi-RCTs, thereby removing some studies which had been included in the previous version of the review.

    Data collection and analysis

    Two review authors independently carried out trial selection, data extraction and GRADE assessment of the certainty of evidence.

    Main results

    We included 13 trials in this update including a total of 2504 participants ranging in age from two to 95 years. Participants in the trials experienced open fractures, surgical wounds, traumatic wounds, anal fissures and chronic wounds. The trials were conducted in six different countries with the majority conducted in India and the USA. Three trials involving 148 participants compared cleansing with tap water with no cleansing. Eight trials involving 2204 participants assessed cleansing with tap water compared with cleansing with normal saline. Two trials involving 152 participants assessed cleansing with distilled water compared with cleansing with normal saline.  One trial involving 51 participants also assessed cleansing with cooled boiled water compared with cleansing with normal saline, and cleansing with distilled water compared with cleansing with cooled boiled water. Wound infection: no trials reported on wound infection for the comparison cleansing with tap water versus no cleansing. For all wounds, eight trials found the effect of cleansing with tap water compared with normal saline is uncertain (risk ratio (RR) 0.84, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.59 to 1.19); very low-certainty evidence. Two trials comparing the use of distilled water with normal saline for cleansing open fractures found that the effect on the number of fractures that were infected is uncertain (RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.45 to 1.09); very low-certainty evidence. One trial compared the use of cooled boiled water with normal saline for cleansing open fractures and found that the effect on the number of fractures infected is uncertain (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.37 to 1.87); very low-certainty evidence. This trial also compared the use of distilled water with cooled boiled water and found that the effect on the number of fractures infected is uncertain (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.24 to 1.47); very low-certainty evidence. Wound healing: results from three trials comparing the use of tap water with no wound cleansing demonstrated there may be little or no difference in the number of wounds that did not heal between the groups (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.14); low-certainty evidence. The effect of tap water compared with normal saline is uncertain; two trials were pooled (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.30 to 1.07) but the certainty of the evidence is very low. Results from one study comparing the use of distilled water with normal saline for cleansing open fractures found that there may be little or no difference in the number of fractures that healed (RR could not be estimated, all wounds healed); the certainty of the evidence is low. Reduction in wound size: the effect of cleansing with tap water compared with normal saline on wound size reduction is uncertain (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.56 to 1.68); the certainty of the evidence is very low. Rate of wound healing: the effect of cleansing with tap water compared with normal saline on wound healing rate is uncertain (mean difference (MD) -3.06, 95% CI -6.70 to 0.58); the certainty of the evidence is very low.

    Costs

    two trials reported cost analyses but the cost-effectiveness of tap water compared with the use of normal saline is uncertain; the certainty of the evidence is very low. Pain: results from one study comparing the use of tap water with no cleansing for acute and chronic wounds showed that there may be little or no difference in pain scores. The certainty of the evidence is low. Patient satisfaction: results from one study comparing the use of tap water with no cleansing for acute and chronic wounds showed that there may be little or no difference in patient satisfaction. The certainty of evidence is low. The effect of cleansing with tap water compared with normal saline is uncertain as the certainty of the evidence is very low.

    Authors' conclusions

    All the evidence identified in the review was low or very low certainty. Cleansing with tap water may make little or no difference to wound healing compared with no cleansing; there are no data relating to the impact on wound infection. The effects of cleansing with tap water, cooled boiled water or distilled water compared with cleansing with saline are uncertain, as is the effect of distilled water compared with cooled boiled water. Data for other outcomes are limited across all the comparisons considered and are either uncertain or suggest that there may be little or no difference in the outcome.

Publication Date


  • 2022

Citation


  • Fernandez, R., Green, H. L., Griffiths, R., Atkinson, R. A., & Ellwood, L. J. (2022). Water for wound cleansing.. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 9, CD003861. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd003861.pub4

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • CD003861

Volume


  • 9

Abstract


  • Background

    Although various solutions have been recommended for cleansing wounds, normal saline is favoured as it is an isotonic solution and is not thought to interfere with the normal healing process. Tap water is commonly used in community settings for cleansing wounds because it is easily accessible, efficient and cost-effective; however, there is an unresolved debate about its use.

    Objectives

    To assess the effects of water for wound cleansing.

    Search methods

    For this fifth update, in May 2021 we searched the Cochrane Wounds Specialised Register; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); Ovid MEDLINE; Ovid Embase and EBSCO CINAHL Plus. We also searched clinical trials registries for ongoing and unpublished studies, and scanned reference lists of relevant included studies as well as reviews, meta-analyses and health technology reports to identify additional studies. There were no restrictions with respect to language, date of publication or study setting.

    Selection criteria

    We included all randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that assessed wound cleansing using different types of water (e.g. tap water, distilled, boiled) compared with no cleansing or with other solutions (e.g. normal saline). For this update, we excluded quasi-RCTs, thereby removing some studies which had been included in the previous version of the review.

    Data collection and analysis

    Two review authors independently carried out trial selection, data extraction and GRADE assessment of the certainty of evidence.

    Main results

    We included 13 trials in this update including a total of 2504 participants ranging in age from two to 95 years. Participants in the trials experienced open fractures, surgical wounds, traumatic wounds, anal fissures and chronic wounds. The trials were conducted in six different countries with the majority conducted in India and the USA. Three trials involving 148 participants compared cleansing with tap water with no cleansing. Eight trials involving 2204 participants assessed cleansing with tap water compared with cleansing with normal saline. Two trials involving 152 participants assessed cleansing with distilled water compared with cleansing with normal saline.  One trial involving 51 participants also assessed cleansing with cooled boiled water compared with cleansing with normal saline, and cleansing with distilled water compared with cleansing with cooled boiled water. Wound infection: no trials reported on wound infection for the comparison cleansing with tap water versus no cleansing. For all wounds, eight trials found the effect of cleansing with tap water compared with normal saline is uncertain (risk ratio (RR) 0.84, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.59 to 1.19); very low-certainty evidence. Two trials comparing the use of distilled water with normal saline for cleansing open fractures found that the effect on the number of fractures that were infected is uncertain (RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.45 to 1.09); very low-certainty evidence. One trial compared the use of cooled boiled water with normal saline for cleansing open fractures and found that the effect on the number of fractures infected is uncertain (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.37 to 1.87); very low-certainty evidence. This trial also compared the use of distilled water with cooled boiled water and found that the effect on the number of fractures infected is uncertain (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.24 to 1.47); very low-certainty evidence. Wound healing: results from three trials comparing the use of tap water with no wound cleansing demonstrated there may be little or no difference in the number of wounds that did not heal between the groups (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.14); low-certainty evidence. The effect of tap water compared with normal saline is uncertain; two trials were pooled (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.30 to 1.07) but the certainty of the evidence is very low. Results from one study comparing the use of distilled water with normal saline for cleansing open fractures found that there may be little or no difference in the number of fractures that healed (RR could not be estimated, all wounds healed); the certainty of the evidence is low. Reduction in wound size: the effect of cleansing with tap water compared with normal saline on wound size reduction is uncertain (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.56 to 1.68); the certainty of the evidence is very low. Rate of wound healing: the effect of cleansing with tap water compared with normal saline on wound healing rate is uncertain (mean difference (MD) -3.06, 95% CI -6.70 to 0.58); the certainty of the evidence is very low.

    Costs

    two trials reported cost analyses but the cost-effectiveness of tap water compared with the use of normal saline is uncertain; the certainty of the evidence is very low. Pain: results from one study comparing the use of tap water with no cleansing for acute and chronic wounds showed that there may be little or no difference in pain scores. The certainty of the evidence is low. Patient satisfaction: results from one study comparing the use of tap water with no cleansing for acute and chronic wounds showed that there may be little or no difference in patient satisfaction. The certainty of evidence is low. The effect of cleansing with tap water compared with normal saline is uncertain as the certainty of the evidence is very low.

    Authors' conclusions

    All the evidence identified in the review was low or very low certainty. Cleansing with tap water may make little or no difference to wound healing compared with no cleansing; there are no data relating to the impact on wound infection. The effects of cleansing with tap water, cooled boiled water or distilled water compared with cleansing with saline are uncertain, as is the effect of distilled water compared with cooled boiled water. Data for other outcomes are limited across all the comparisons considered and are either uncertain or suggest that there may be little or no difference in the outcome.

Publication Date


  • 2022

Citation


  • Fernandez, R., Green, H. L., Griffiths, R., Atkinson, R. A., & Ellwood, L. J. (2022). Water for wound cleansing.. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 9, CD003861. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd003861.pub4

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • CD003861

Volume


  • 9