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Sweethearts resist infection.

Here's another use for sugar -- as packing for hard-to-heal surgical wounds. The July 27 LANCET contains an account of using sugar to fill open, infected wounds following chest surgery.

Jean Louis Trouillet and his colleagues at the Hopital Bichat in Paris tried the procedure on 19 critically ill patients with mediastinitis, a swelling of the tissue between the lungs that sometimes follows heart surgery. They filled the patients' wounds with "ordinary granulated sugar" and changed the dressing several times daily. Fourteen of the patients were discharged an average of 54 days after wound treatment, compared with an average of 85 days found in a retrospective analysis of mediastinitis patients treated previously with conventional antibiotics. The remaining five test patients died before discharge, but not, the researchers report, as a result of wound complications.

The French scientists aren't the first to report on the use of sugar to prevent infection and promote wound healing. Leon Herszage of Buenos Aires and Richard A. Knutson of the Delta Orthopedic Center in Greenville, Miss., both began using it independently in 1976. Herszage reported on its use in 120 patients in an Argentine medical journal in 1980; Knutson reported on 605 patients in the November 1981 SOUTHERN MEDICAL JOURNAL.

Knutson first used sugar to treat two patients with severe antibiotic-resistant skin ulcers, after a nurse told him she had used sugar on bedsores. He has since used sugar in combination with povidone-iodine, an antiseptic, on more than 3,000 patients with burns, ulcers, lacerations, gunshot wounds and amputations. The

Hopital Bichat results, he told SCIENCE NEWS, "closely parallel ours." The French researchers note that "the explanation for the success of sugar treatment is . . . still being debated and probably complex." Herszage has suggested that bacteria in the wound become dehydrated when the high osmotic pressure fostered by the sugar draws their water out; Knutson says the sugar may block the bacteria's access to nearly nutrients.
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Title Annotation:sugar used as packing for hard-to-heal surgical wounds
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 24, 1985
Words:319
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