The right method for midline laparotomy: what is the best choice for wound healing?

Acta Chir Belg. Nov-Dec 2007;107(6):682-6. doi: 10.1080/00015458.2007.11680146.


Background: The techniques used for midline laparotomy affect healing in surgical wounds, but the relationship between cold scalpel and haemostatic methods (harmonic scalpel, diathermy) regarding wound healing remains unclear. There are also limited studies concerning the effects of harmonic scalpel on abdominal fascia. This study was aimed at comparing myofascial wound healing following laparotomy incision on fascia by cold scalpel (CS), harmonic scalpel (HS), and diathermy in terms of hydroxyproline content, inflammatory changes and tensile strength.

Materials and methods: Twenty-seven male Wistar albino rats underwent midline laparotomy either with cold scalpel (CS), harmonic scalpel (HS) or diathermy. Fascia incisions were closed with continuous 4/0 polypropylene and skin incisions were closed with interrupted 4/0 polypropylene stitches. On the 7th postoperative day, the abdominal walls of the rats were tested for tensile strength. In addition, each abdominal fascia was evaluated for inflammation scores and hydroxyproline levels.

Results: HS caused less inflammation and necrosis in abdominal fascia compared to the diathermy group (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively), whereas the CS group showed no difference in inflammation scores, but had significantly lower necrosis scores than the HS and diathermy groups (p < 0.05 and p < 0.001, respectively). Hydroxyproline content of the fascia did not differ among groups, while the tensile strength of the wound was obviously higher in the CS group (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: HS causes less inflammatory reaction and necrosis than diathermy, but more necrosis than CS. Fascia incisions with CS gains tensile strength faster than in other groups. HS appears to cause less tissue injury than diathermy and also has comparable results for wound healing. Further clinical studies on the impact of HS in fascia incisions are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cold Temperature
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures
  • Electrocoagulation*
  • Fascia / pathology
  • Hot Temperature
  • Laparotomy / methods*
  • Male
  • Necrosis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Skin / pathology
  • Tensile Strength
  • Ultrasonics*
  • Wound Healing*