Surgical site infection (SSI) affects up to 25% of primary surgical wounds. Dressing strategies may influence SSI risk. The Bluebelle study assessed the feasibility of a multicentre randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different dressing strategies to reduce SSI in primary surgical wounds.
A pilot, factorial RCT.
Five UK hospitals.
Adults undergoing abdominal surgery with a primary surgical wound.
Participants were randomised to 'simple dressing', 'glue-as-a-dressing' or 'no dressing', and to the time at which the treatment allocation was disclosed to the surgeon (disclosure time, before or after wound closure).
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Feasibility outcomes focused on recruitment, adherence to randomised allocations, reference assessment of SSI and response rates to participant-completed and observer-completed questionnaires to assess SSI (proposed primary outcome for main trial), wound experience and symptoms, and quality of life (EQ-5D-5L).
Between March and November 2016, 1115 patients were screened; 699 (73.4%) were eligible and approached, 415 (59.4%) consented and 394 (35.3%) were randomised (simple dressing=133, glue=129 and 'no dressing'=132). Non-adherence to dressing allocation was 2% (3/133), 6% (8/129) and 15% (20/132), respectively. Adherence to disclosure time was 99% and 86% before and after wound closure, respectively. The overall rate of SSI (reference assessment) was 18.1% (51/281). Response rates to the Wound Healing Questionnaire and other questionnaires ranged from >90% at 4 days to 68% at 4-8 weeks.
A definitive RCT of dressing strategies including 'no dressing' is feasible. Further work is needed to optimise questionnaire response rates.
- randomised controlled trial
- pilot study
- surgical site infection
- wound dressing
- tissue adhesive as a dressing