This study compared the healing of midline fascial incisions made with either scalpel or electrocautery and inoculated with Escherichia coli in 57 Sprague-Dawley rats. At 7 days, tensile strength was significantly less when incisions were made with electrocautery than with a scalpel. Additionally, wound strength was inversely related to the concentration of the inoculum of E coli. The use of electrocautery was also associated with more frequent bacteremia at 48 hours and higher mortality at 7 days. Our results suggest that the technique used to incise the abdominal fascia influences subsequent wound healing, particularly in contaminated wounds.
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