TORONTO – A new study is suggesting that the simple act of taking pictures of post-surgical wounds on a cellphone could be a tool to help detect infection early and reduce complications after surgery.

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This idea is called taking a ‘surgery selfie’. And a study from the University of Edinburgh published Thursday in the journal NPC Digital Medicine found that they are associated with fewer doctor visits and better physician consultation for patients.

“Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have been major changes in the way care is taken after surgery. Patients and staff have become used to remote consultations, and we have shown that we can effectively and safely monitor wounds after surgery, while patients heal at home,” said Dr. Kenneth McLean, A clinical research fellow and study co-lead at the University of Edinburgh, said in a press release, “This is likely to become the new normal.”


According to the release, the third leading cause of death globally is death that occurs within 30 days of surgery.

In the study, researchers recruited adults who had abdominal surgery at two tertiary hospitals between July 2016 and March 2020. Of the 429 patients, 269 were given routine postoperative care, while 223 were provided with access to a “lesion assessment tool”. a smartphone.

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All patients then reported symptoms on days three, seven and 15 after their surgery, while smartphone patients sent pictures of the wound on those days.

The key thing doctors were looking for was the time it took to diagnose a surgical site infection (SSI).

Between the control group and those taking surgery selfies, there was no significant difference in the number of people who developed SSI, with 8.3 percent of the entire group developing the condition.

Additionally, the group with smartphones were 3.7 times more likely to receive an SSI diagnosis within a week of their operation.

There were also significant differences in healthcare access between the two groups, with patients in the smartphone group having access to much less community care. Patients using smartphone tools also reported easier access to care in terms of wait times and better advice from doctors.

The researchers acknowledge that although they haven’t found definitive results on whether this will improve time to diagnosis, the study suggests that using smartphone photos of post-surgical wounds can improve patients’ routine care. May help and reduce the burden on health. System by cutting down on check-ups.

“Notably, the tool exhibited high negative predictive discrimination, meaning that the SSI could be ruled out with confidence,” the study explained.

“Our study illustrates the benefits of using mobile technology for follow-up after surgery,” said study lead Ewen Harrison, Professor at the University of Edinburgh, in the release. “The use of mobile phone apps around the time of surgery is becoming more common – we are working to increase this within the NHS, giving patients the benefits of being directly connected with the hospital team treating them.”