OBJECTIVES: Wound complications are reported in up to 10% hip and knee arthroplasties and there is a proven association between wound complications and deep prosthetic infections. In this randomised controlled trial (RCT) we explore the potential benefits of a portable, single use, incisional negative pressure wound therapy dressing (iNPWTd) on wound exudate, length of stay (LOS), wound complications, dressing changes and cost-effectiveness following total hip and knee arthroplasties. METHODS: A total of 220 patients undergoing elective primary total hip and knee arthroplasties were recruited into in a non-blinded RCT. For the final analysis there were 102 patients in the study group and 107 in the control group. RESULTS: An improvement was seen in the study (iNPWTd) group compared to control in all areas. Peak post-surgical wound exudate was significantly reduced (p = 0.007). Overall LOS reduction (0.9 days, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.2 to 2.5) was not significant (p = 0.07) but there was a significant reduction in patients with extreme values of LOS in the iNPWTd group (Moses test, p = 0.003). There was a significantly reduced number of dressing changes (mean difference 1.7, 95% CI 0.8 to 2.5, p = 0.002), and a trend to a significant four-fold reduction in reported post-operative surgical wound complications (8.4% control; 2.0% iNPWTd, p = 0.06). CONCLUSIONS: Based on the results of this RCT incisional negative pressure wound therapy dressings have a beneficial role in patients undergoing primary hip and knee arthroplasty to achieve predictable length of stay, especially to eliminate excessive hospital stay, and minimise wound complications.Cite this article: S. L. Karlakki, A. K. Hamad, C. Whittall, N. M. Graham, R. D. Banerjee, J. H. Kuiper. Incisional negative pressure wound therapy dressings (iNPWTd) in routine primary hip and knee arthroplasties: A randomised controlled trial. Bone Joint Res 2016;5:328-337. DOI: 10.1302/2046-3758.58.BJR-2016-0022.R1.