Prophylactic NPWT May Not Improve Complication Rate After Gynecologic Surgery

Jeff Craven

February 25, 2021

Use of prophylactic negative pressure wound therapy may not be appropriate in surgical cases where women undergo a laparotomy for presumed gynecologic malignancy, according to recent research published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

"The results of our randomized trial do not support the routine use of prophylactic negative pressure wound therapy at the time of laparotomy incision closure in women who are undergoing surgery for gynecologic malignancies or in morbidly obese women who are undergoing laparotomy for benign indications," wrote Mario M. Leitao Jr., MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and colleagues.

Leitao and colleagues randomized 663 patients, stratified by body mass index after skin closure, to receive negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) or standard gauze after undergoing a laparotomy for gynecologic surgery between March 2016 and August 2019.

The median age of the patients was 61 years and median BMI was 26 kg/m2. Thirty-two patients with a BMI of 40 kg/m2 or higher who underwent a laparotomy for gynecologic surgery regardless of indication were also included in the study. Most women (80%-82%) were undergoing surgery to treat ovary, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer. The most common medical comorbidities in both groups were hypertension (34%-35%) and diabetes (8%-14%). Information on race of patients was not included in the baseline characteristics for the study.

In total, 505 patients were available for evaluation after surgery, which consisted of 254 patients in the NPWT group and 251 patients in the standard gauze group, with 495 patients (98%) having a malignant indication. The researchers examined the incidence of wound complication up to 30 days after surgery.

The results showed a similar rate of wound complications in the NPWT group (44 patients; 17.3%) compared with the group receiving standard gauze (41 patients; 16.3%), with an absolute risk difference between groups of 1% (90% confidence interval, –4.5-6.5%; P = .77). Nearly all patients who developed wound complications in both NPWT (92%) and standard gauze (95%) groups had the wound complication diagnosis occur after discharge from the hospital. Leitao and colleagues noted similarities between groups with regard to wound complications, with most patients having grade 1 complications, and said there were no instances of patients requiring surgery for complications. Among patients in the NPWT group, 33 patients developed skin blistering compared with 3 patients in the standard gauze group (13% vs. 1.2%; P < .001). After an interim analysis consisting of 444 patients, the study was halted because of "low probability of showing a difference between the two groups at the end of the study."

The analysis of patients with a BMI of 40 kg/m2 or higher showed 7 of 15 patients (47%) developed wound complications in the NPWT group and 6 of 17 patients (35%) did so in the standard gauze group (P = .51). In post hoc analyses, the researchers found a median BMI of 26 kg/m2 (range, 17-60 kg/m2) was significantly associated with not developing a wound complication compared with a BMI of 32 kg/m2 (range, 17-56 kg/m2) (P < .001), and that 41% of patients with a BMI of at least 40 kg/m2 experienced wound complications compared with 15% of patients with a BMI of less than 40 kg/m2 (P < .001). There was an independent association between developing a wound complication and increasing BMI, according to a multivariate analysis (adjusted odds ratio, 1.10; 95% confidence interval, 1.06–1.14).

Applicability of Results Unclear for Patients With Higher BMI

Sarah M. Temkin, MD, a gynecologic oncologist who was not involved with the study, said in an interview that the results by Leitao and colleagues answer the question of whether patients undergoing surgery for gynecologic malignancy require NPWT, but raised questions about patient selection in the study.

"I think it's hard to take data from this type of high-end surgical practice and apply it to the general population," she said, noting the median BMI of 26 kg/m2 for patients included in the study. A study that included only patients with a BMI of 40 kg/m2 or higher "would have made these results more applicable," she said.

The low rate of wound complications in the study could be explained by patient selection, Temkin explained. She cited her own retrospective study from 2016 that showed a wound complication rate of 27.3% for patients receiving prophylactic NPWT where the BMI for the group was 41.29 kg/m2 compared with a complication rate of 19.7% for patients receiving standard care who had a BMI of 30.67 kg/m2.

"It's hard to cross trial compare, but that's significantly higher than what they saw in this prospective study, and I would say that's a difference with the patient population," she said. "I think the question of how to reduce surgical site infections and wound complications in the heavy patient with comorbidities is still unanswered."

The question is important because patients with a higher BMI and medical comorbidities "still need cancer surgery and methods to reduce the morbidity of that surgery," Temkin said. "I think this is an unmet need."

This study was funded in part by a support grant from NIH/NCI Cancer Center, and KCI/Acelity provided part of the study protocol. Nine authors reported personal and institutional relationships in the form of personal fees, grants, stock ownership, consultancies, and speakers bureau positions with AstraZeneca, Biom'Up, Bovie Medical Co., C Surgeries, CMR, ConMed, Covidien, Ethicon, GlaxoSmithKline, GRAIL, Intuitive Surgical Inc., JNJ, Medtronic, Merck, Mylan, Olympus, Stryker/Novadaq, TransEnterix Inc., UpToDate, and Verthermia Inc. Temkin reported no relevant financial disclosures.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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