Use of photograph-based telemedicine in postoperative wound assessment to diagnose or exclude surgical site infection

J.P. Totty, A.E. Harwood, Tom Wallace, I.C. Chetter, George E. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE:This study aims to assess whether a clinician reviewing photographs of a wound was an acceptable substitute for clinical review in order to identify or exclude surgical site infection (SSI).METHOD:We undertook a mixed methods study consisting of a qualitative public involvement exercise and a prospective, non-randomised, single-centre study of patients undergoing clean or clean-contaminated vascular surgery. For the qualitative study, two semi-structured focus group interviews were conducted. For the prospective study, patients were invited to attend a wound review at 5-7 days and 30 days postoperatively. At review, wounds were scored by a study nurse or doctor, according to the ASEPSIS scale. Anonymised wound photographs were taken and independently reviewed, and ASEPSIS scored by two independent investigators blinded to the original 'clinical review' ASEPSIS score.RESULTS:In the qualitative study, three female patients were interviewed across two dates. Emerging themes included the burden of SSI, hospital follow-up and telemedical follow-up. A total of 37 patients with a mean age of 61.14 years were included in the quantitative analysis. There was a total of 53 wound reviews. There was >85% agreement between photograph and clinical reviewers in all categories except erythema. The specificity of photograph review for diagnosis of SSI was 90%. The intraclass correlation coefficient for total ASEPSIS score was R=0.806 (95% CI 0.694, 0.881), indicating strong reliability between reviewers.CONCLUSION:Our data shows that, in the assessment of SSI, there is good correlation between face-to-face clinical and remote photographic review. Incorporating this method of wound assessment into a postoperative follow-up care pathway may save patients and clinicians from unnecessary hospital visits, particularly when conducting health research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-135
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of wound care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


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