Wound Dehiscence: When an Incision Reopens

Wound dehiscence is when your incision reopens after surgery. It may happen during or after surgery. You might not even notice it happening, but if you have had any type of major operation in the past, then this is something you need to be aware of.

What causes wound dehiscence?

When you have a cut or scrape on your skin, it’s normal for some blood vessels to close up temporarily. If they don’t get reopened soon enough, they will eventually become blocked again and the wound will start bleeding again. That’s why you usually see the doctor when you’ve been having problems with your wounds. Sometimes these are minor and heal themselves naturally without treatment, but sometimes they require professional attention.

Why does wound dehiscence occur?

The answer to this question depends on what part of your body is affected. The most common reason is where the cut or scrape was made. Some cuts and scrapes can cause them to open up again due to the pressure of the blood flowing through them. Other types of injuries such as burns or stab wounds often result in scarring which makes healing slower than usual.

How do you treat wound dehiscence?

The treatment for wound dehiscence depends on the location and the type of operation. If it has just happened, you are likely to be admitted to a hospital. An experienced team will carefully inspect your wound and see if they can tell why it opened up again. You may need a simple skin graft or it may mean you need to have the wound redone. Either way, it is very rare for a wound dehiscence to cause permanent damage as long as it is treated quickly. If you’ve had a wound dehiscence before, then your surgeon will inspect it and see if anything else needs to be done to prevent it from happening again.

How do you prevent wound dehiscence?

Preventing wound dehiscence mainly involves preventing the initial problem. In some cases, this is as simple as getting treatment for an injury. If you have had a wound dehiscence before, it is very important to keep your wound area clean and dry after any future operations. You should also be sure wear loose clothing over the affected area. Stitches can be tightened or removed if they are preventing wound healing correctly.

What to do if you think you have wound dehiscence?

If you notice any signs of a wound opening up again, or just bleeding in general, then you should contact your doctor immediately. If you’ve had a recent operation, it’s best to call your surgeon and explain what has happened. They may tell you that they will need to see you in person before treatment can continue. It’s also important not to do anything that may increase the risk of infection. If the wound looks red or inflamed, then it is best to get it checked out.

Sources & references used in this article:

Treatment of median sternotomy infection by mediastinal irrigation with an antibiotic solution. by LR Bryant, FC Spencer, JK Trinkle – Annals of surgery, 1969 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Dehiscence of a radial keratotomy incision during clear corneal cataract surgery by K Budak, NJ Friedman, DD Koch – Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery, 1998 – Elsevier

Cardiff repair of incisional hernia: a university hospital experience by VK Shukla, A Gupta, H Singh… – European Journal of …, 1998 – Wiley Online Library

Towards no incisional hernias: lateral paramedian versus midline incisions. by PJ Cox, JR Ausobsky, H Ellis… – Journal of the Royal …, 1986 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Healing of reopened-and-sutured radial keratotomy wounds by GRJ Melles, PS Binder, WH Beekhuis… – Journal of Cataract & …, 1995 – Elsevier