Postsurgical selfies may catch infections sooner, study finds 

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Patients who use their smartphone to snap and share photos of postsurgical wounds with their clinicians may get a quicker diagnosis of an infection after surgery, according to a study published Nov. 18 in NPJ Digital Medicine

For the study, researchers from the University of Edinburgh conducted a randomized clinical trial with 492 emergency abdominal surgery patients to determine if photos from smartphones and questions on infection symptoms could help diagnose wound infections sooner. 

A group of 223 patients was directed to complete an online survey on days three, seven and 15 after surgery. Patients were asked about their wound and any symptoms they were experiencing, and they uploaded a photo of their wound for a surgical team member to assess for signs of infection. The team then followed up with the patients 30 days after surgery to see if they had been diagnosed with an infection. 

The second group of 269 patients received the routine level of care and was contacted 30 days after surgery to see if they had been diagnosed with an infection, according to the news release. 

Researchers found no significant difference between both groups in how long it took to diagnose infections in the 30-day postsurgery period. However, the smartphone group was almost four times more likely to have their wound infection diagnosed within seven days of their surgery, compared to the routine care group. The smartphone group also had fewer general practitioner appointments than the routine care group.

 

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