A comparison of wound irrigation solutions used in the emergency department

Ann Emerg Med. 1990 Jun;19(6):704-8. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(05)82484-9.


The purpose of our study was to examine which of the wound irrigants commonly used in the emergency department is the most efficacious in reducing the risk of wound infection. Five hundred thirty-one patients were randomized into three groups. All patients had their wounds irrigated using a 20-mL syringe with a 20-gauge IV catheter. Patients received irrigation with normal saline (NS), 1% povidone-iodine solution (PI), or pluronic F-68 (Shur-Clens) (SC). Treatment was assigned by month; all wounds were treated with one solution during each of the three months of the study. The wounds were closed with interrupted, simple nylon sutures. The number of wound infections was 13 (6.9%), eight (4.3%), and nine (5.6%) for groups receiving NS, PI, and SC, respectively. This was not statistically significant. We conclude that there is not a significant difference in infection rates among sutured wounds irrigated with NS, PI, or SC. The cost of NS was the lowest of the three treatments in our ED.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Detergents / administration & dosage
  • Detergents / therapeutic use*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Middle Aged
  • Povidone
  • Povidone-Iodine / administration & dosage
  • Povidone-Iodine / therapeutic use*
  • Sodium Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Sodium Chloride / therapeutic use*
  • Surface-Active Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / methods
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / standards
  • Wound Infection / classification
  • Wound Infection / epidemiology*
  • Wound Infection / prevention & control
  • Wounds, Penetrating / complications
  • Wounds, Penetrating / drug therapy*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / therapy


  • Detergents
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Povidone-Iodine
  • Povidone