Kids Health Info

Orthopaedic wound care

  • Orthopaedic wound care involves the care of the operation site (incision/cut) and suture line (stitches).  The sutures are covered by "steristrips" (paper tape) and a dressing.
    Wounds are often covered by plaster and are unable to be seen. The type of wound care required after discharge from hospital will depend on the operation performed and the dressing that is applied.


    • Keep the dressing clean and dry.  A waterproof dressing will usually be applied prior to discharge. This is usually a thin, clear, adhesive dressing and is often placed over an initial dressing. Your child will be able to have a shower if the dressing is waterproof.
    • Never leave a wet dressing on a wound.  If the dressing becomes wet it should be removed and replaced.
    • Unless you are told otherwise, the dressing should be removed two weeks after the surgery. You can see your local doctor for a wound check or, if you feel confident, you can remove the dressing yourself. If the wound appears to have healed well, a new dressing is not needed.
    • Generally, dissolvable sutures (stitches) are used.  This means that they do not need to be taken out or removed. If the sutures are non-dissolving, you will need to return to your local doctor or Orthopaedic Outpatients to have the stitches removed (specific instructions will be provided). 
    • Steristrips are applied to cover and keep the wound edges together.

    At home care/care after procedure

    You should check your child's operation site regularly to see that it is healing well and to look for any signs of infection.

    Signs to watch for:

    • The skin around the wound looks red or inflamed and feels hotter than the surrounding skin.
    • Any staining or oozing on the dressing (or cast), particularly if it is green or yellow in colour.
    • Your child's wound starts to become very smelly.
    • Your child develops a fever which is not relieved with medication.
    • Pain around the wound does not get better after taking pain medication.

    Wound healing

    • The edges of the wound should come together neatly.  There should be no open or oozing areas.
    • To start with, it is normal for the wound to appear slightly red or raised in appearance.


    Your child's nurse will give you specific instructions about when to come back to the hospital.

    Key points to remember

    Contact your local doctor, call the Orthopaedic Outpatient Department or take your child to your nearest hospital emergency department if you are concerned that your child may have:

    • a wound infection;
    • dressing that is too wet or loose;
    • or you are worried the wound may be healing too slowly.

    For more information

    • Talk to your family doctor
    • Call Platypus Ward (03) 9345 5432
    • RCH Orthopaediac Department (03) 9345 5444

    Developed by RCH Orthopaedics. First published 2005. Updated May 2010.

Kids Health Info app

The app will enable you to search and browse more than three hundred medical fact sheets and work offline.

This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.