Open Wounds and Lacerations
An open wound involves a break in the skin or tissue that may be caused by, among other things, accident, injury or animal bite. A laceration is a type of open wound, one with jagged, irregular edges. Open wounds and lacerations typically involve bleeding, redness, swelling, pain, and tenderness. They can occur nearly anywhere on the body, with the upper extremities being a common location for open wounds/lacerations caused by accidents or falls. Deeper wounds or lacerations may require medical attention to prevent infection and loss of function, due to damage to underlying structures such as bone, muscle, tendon, arteries and nerves. Medical care for wounds and lacerations focuses on promoting healing, preventing complications and preserving function. While important, cosmetic results are not the primary consideration for wound repair.
Diagnosis of Open Wounds and Lacerations
A physician assesses the severity of the injury by performing a physical examination, asking about how the injury occurred and gaining information about any pre-existing medical conditions that the patient may have. They may also look for any signs of weakness or numbness in the injured area and may test nerve and muscle function. X-rays may also be performed if more serious injuries to bones or tissue are suspected.
Treatment of Open Wounds and Lacerations
The first step of treatment is to stop the bleeding of a wound or laceration. While treatment depends on the type and severity of the injury, it can often initially be treated at home by cleaning and bandaging the wound and applying pressure. Severe wounds or lacerations may require emergency medical care. Medication to numb the injured area may be given and wound and laceration repair usually includes cleaning and preparing the wound, and then closing it with staples, special surgical glue or adhesive strips. Deeper cuts may require stitches to repair deep structures, such as connective tissue. Stitches to the skin surface can also help to stop bleeding, protect underlying tissues, and lessen scarring. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to fight infection. In severe cases, minimally invasive surgery may be performed to remove or graft skin. Follow-up care is often required to remove stitches or other materials used to close the laceration, and to monitor the healing process.