Primary Knee| Volume 36, ISSUE 3, P970-977, March 2021

Choosing the Optimal Wound Dressing for Bathing After Total Knee Arthroplasty

Published:September 17, 2020DOI:



      Many surgical dressings claim to be waterproof and safe for bathing postoperatively. The purpose of this study is to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of commonly used dressings' ability to prevent water penetration while bathing. Additionally, a survey was used to determine satisfaction and cost analysis performed.


      Four different dressings were applied to 17 subjects' knees: Aquacel, Opsite, Acticoat, and Tegaderm. A folded Medline Gauze Sponge was weighed and placed under each dressing before and after showering and bathing (submergence under water) in order to measure water penetration (change in weight of sponge in grams). A failure was defined as any dressing that allowed a sponge weight change greater than 1 standard deviation, or 3.9 g. All participants were additionally asked to complete a short survey after testing about the dressings.


      Tegaderm was found to have significantly less water penetration than all other dressings except Aquacel and demonstrated no failures with showering, significantly less than all other dressings. Tegaderm was also found to have significantly less water penetration than all other dressings except Acticoat with bathing and had significantly less failures than all other dressings. Furthermore, Tegaderm was found to be the most comfortable and lowest cost per dressing.


      Tegaderm was overall the most effective at preventing water penetration, most comfortable, and most cost-effective. Aquacel was found to be equally as effective at preventing water penetration while showering but overall had more water penetration, had more failures, caused more discomfort, and was more expensive.


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