BACKGROUND: Hand trauma, comprising injuries to both the hand and wrist, affects over five million people per year in the NHS, resulting in 250 000 operations each year. Surgical site infection (SSI) following hand trauma surgery leads to significant morbidity. Triclosan-coated sutures may reduce SSI in major abdominal surgery but have never been tested in hand trauma. Feasibility needs to be ascertained before a definitive trial can be delivered in hand trauma. METHODS: A multicentre feasibility RCT of antimicrobial sutures versus standard sutures involving adults undergoing surgery for hand trauma to evaluate feasibility for a definitive trial. Secondary objectives were incidence of SSI in both groups, hand function measured with patient-reported outcome measures, health-related quality of life and change in employment. Randomization was performed on a 1:1 basis, stratified by age of the patient and whether the injury was open or closed, using a secure, centralized, online randomization service. Participants were blinded to allocation. RESULTS: 116 participants were recruited and randomized (60 intervention, 56 control). Of 227 screened, most were eligible (89.5 per cent), and most who were approached agreed to be included in the study (84.7 per cent). Retention was low: 57.5 per cent at 30 days, 52 per cent at 90 days and 45.1 per cent at 6 months. Incidence of SSI was >20 per cent in both groups. Hand function deteriorated after injury but recovered to near pre-injury levels during the study period. CONCLUSIONS: Risk of SSI after hand trauma is high. A definitive RCT of antimicrobial sutures in hand trauma surgery is feasible, if retention is improved. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN10771059.
Br j surg