The use of povidone-iodine and sugar solution in surgical wound dehiscence in the head and neck following radio-chemotherapy

Int Wound J. 2019 Aug;16(4):909-915. doi: 10.1111/iwj.13118. Epub 2019 Apr 10.


Povidone-iodine is known for successfully treating surgical wounds; the combination between povidone-iodine and sugar, also called Knutson's formula, has been proposed to improve wound healing. Currently, no studies have investigated the effects of Knutson's formula to treat defects in wound closure following radio-chemotherapy in the head and neck region. The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of Knutson's formula in improving the wound-healing process in patients who underwent radio-chemotherapy after surgery for head and neck cancer. The study, conducted from August 2013 to January 2017, included a sample of 34 patients (25 males and 9 females; age range: 60-75 years) treated with radio-chemotherapy after head and neck cancer surgery. All patients suffered from defect of wound regeneration. Patients were randomly divided into two groups: patients in the study group (n = 18) were treated with Knutson's formula; patients in the control group (n = 16) were treated with traditional topical drugs. In the study group, 16 of 18 (88.9%) patients reached complete wound closure 1 month after treatment, with no wound infections. In the control group, only three patients (18.7%) showed complete wound closure within a month; in addition, one patient required systemic antibiotic treatment because of supra-bacterial infection of the wound. In our sample, the combination of povidone-iodine and sugar had a higher success rate compared with traditional topical treatment in the treatment of wound defect closure in oncological patients who underwent radio-chemotherapy.

Keywords: Knutson's formula; chemotherapy; radiotherapy; wound dehiscence; wound healing.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Aged
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Glucose Solution, Hypertonic / therapeutic use*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Povidone-Iodine / therapeutic use*
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / etiology*
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / physiopathology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / drug therapy*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Glucose Solution, Hypertonic
  • Povidone-Iodine