Reasons for performing study: Post operative complications following exploratory laparotomy can be potentially life-threatening, increase post operative morbidity and result in an increase in the length of hospitalisation of the affected individual. No study has evaluated the efficacy of specific strategies to reduce the incidence of post operative incisional complications.
Hypothesis: The use of an abdominal bandage following colic surgery through a celiotomy incision would significantly reduce the prevalence of post operative incisional complications.
Methods: A controlled, randomised clinical trial to test the hypothesis was devised. Horses eligible for inclusion in the study were assigned randomly either to the study or control group following recovery from general anaesthesia. Any post operative incisional complications occurring during hospitalisation were recorded. Long-term follow-up was obtained via telephone questionnaires. Absolute risk reduction (ARR) and number needed to treat (NNT) were calculated. Multivariable analyses were conducted for all outcomes of interest.
Results: There was an ARR of the likelihood of developing a post operative incisional complication of 45% when using compared to not using an abdominal bandage in the post operative period. Therefore, it would be necessary to treat 2.2 horses with an abdominal bandage in order to prevent one horse developing any post operative incisional complications.
Conclusions: Although incisional complications continue to be a problem following an exploratory celiotomy for colic, the proportion of horses affected was significantly reduced by use of a bandage.
Potential relevance: Using an abdominal bandage following an exploratory laparotomy may help reduce the prevalence of post operative incisional complications, and prevent the development of potentially life-threatening complications.