Wound infections are a serious complication of surgery to treat colon and rectal cancer leading to longer hospital stays and a doubling of the risk of death after surgery.
However, recent research with patients having surgery for colon or rectal cancer reported in the [*Journal of the American Medical Association*](http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/294/16/2035) found that those who received a higher concentration of oxygen during surgery and for six hours afterwards had about a 40% lower risk of an infected surgical site (SSI).
Nearly 300 patients were randomized to receive either 80% of 30% concentration of inspired oxygen during surgery. Patients in the study were watched for signs of wound infection for 14 days after their operations. Those receiving the higher oxygen percentage had an infection rate of 14.9% compared with 24.4% for those receiving lower amounts. Preparation for surgery, use of antibiotics, and anesthesia techniques were standardized.
Fourteen hospitals in Spain participated in the research led by F. Javier Belda, MD, PhD, who concluded:
Patients receiving supplemental inspired oxygen had a significant reduction in the risk of wound infection. Supplemental oxygen appears to be an effective intervention to reduce SSI in patients undergoing colon or rectal surgery.
More [detailed information about the study](http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/515400) along with information from an [accompanying *JAMA* editorial by E. Patchen Dellinger, MD](http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/extract/294/16/2091) is available on *Medscape.*