Comparison of a new pressurized saline canister versus syringe irrigation for laceration cleansing in the emergency department

Carey D. Chisholm, William H. Cordell, Kevin Rogers, John R. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Study objective: Studies have documented the efficacy of normal saline irrigation in decreasing wound infection rates. Wounds traditionally are irrigated using a syringe and needle with manual injection of fluid, a time- and labor-intensive method. We compared irrigation times and infection rates for wounds cleansed with syringe irrigation versus a new, single-use canister of pressurized (8 psi) sterile normal saline. Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled. Setting: Two Level I emergency departments in tertiary care hospitals, both with emergency medicine residency programs. Participants: Patients with lacerations requiring closure were eligible. Exclusion criteria were wounds above the clavicle more than ten hours old, wounds below the clavicle more than six hours old, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or antibiotic or steroid therapy. Patients (550) were entered between August 1, 1990, and January 31, 1991. Characteristics of the two treatment groups were similar for patient age, age of the wound, size and depth of the laceration, and number of sutures. Interventions: Lacerations were irrigated with 250 mL saline in a syringe or 220 mL saline in a pressurized canister for each 5 cm of laceration. At follow-up or suture removal, patients were evaluated for signs of wound complications (cellulitis, ascending lymphangitis, purulent discharge, or dehiscence). Main results: The mean irrigation time for the pressurized canister group (281) was 3.9 minutes versus 7.3 minutes in the syringe irrigation group (254) (P < .0001). The complication rate for the pressurized canister group was 5.0% compared with 3.6% for the syringe irrigation group (not significant, P = .50). Only three of the 20 total complications required antibiotics (two in the pressurized canister group, one in the syringe irrigation group). Conclusion: Syringe irrigation times were nearly twice as long as the pressurized canister irrigation times. Use of the pressurized canister facilitates ease of irrigation and markedly decreases the time involved in this traditionally labor-intensive activity. In addition, delivery of the saline is no longer operator dependent, ensuring generation of pressures appropriate for wound cleansing. The pressurized canisters may be useful in standardizing irrigation in wound management research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1364-1367
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1992


  • irrigation, wound wound management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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