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Surgical wound dehiscence (SWD): International consensus statement on assessment, diagnosis and management

Kylie Sandy-Hodgetts (Chair), Edmund Leung, Ethel Andrews, Ewa Klara Stuermer, Harikrishna K.Ragavan Nair, Jacky Edwards, Jane Hampton, Pan Dan, Thomas Wainwright
24 June 2024

The global volume of surgery is considerable and growing. It was estimated that 312.9 million surgical procedures were performed in 2012, which represented a 33.6% increase over 8 years (Weiser et al, 2015). Despite advances in surgical technique, intra-operative practice and the increasing availability of advanced wound dressings, surgical wound complications continue to pose significant challenges for patients, healthcare professionals and healthcare providers worldwide (Sandy-Hodgetts et al, 2022a; 2023). Surgical wound complications also represent one of the leading causes of morbidity following surgery (Sandy-Hodgetts et al, 2022b). Moreover, the burden of dehisced surgical wounds in the community setting is substantial and growing due to an ageing population, increasingly complex surgical procedures, early discharge from hospital post-surgery and a lack of follow-up surveillance (Hughes et al, 2021). Understanding the management of surgical wound dehiscence (SWD) in community settings is crucial; a UK study reported that more than half (57.1%) of wounds due to SWD healing by secondary intention were being cared for in a community, rather than in a primary or secondary setting (Chetter et al, 2017). 

In December 2023, a group of experts convened for an online meeting to develop this consensus document, focusing on the assessment, diagnosis and management of SWD. 

This consensus document aims to:

  • Identify gaps within current assessment, diagnosis and treatment, and provide guidance on how to identify patients at risk 
  • Raise awareness and provide education on the prevention and management of SWD using guidelines and tools in practice 
  • Highlight how negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) can help reduce the burden of SWD in the outpatient/community setting. 

The overall aim is to explore the current landscape of surgery and post-surgical wound complications worldwide, the role and profile of NPWT for the treatment of SWD, and the importance of optimising patients throughout all stages of the surgical journey with a focus on the community and primary care setting.  

Kylie Sandy-Hodgetts, Chair

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Disclaimer: This document has been developed by Wounds International and supported by Smith+Nephew.

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