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THE JOURNAL OF CARDIOVASCULAR SURGERY
A Journal on Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery
Indexed/Abstracted in: BIOSIS Previews, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 1,632
ORIGINAL ARTICLES CARDIAC PAPERS
The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2000 April;41(2):241-5
Primary closure of deep sternal wound infection following open heart surgery. A safe operation?
Levi N., Olsen P. S.
From the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery Rigshospitalet The National University Hospital Copenhagen, Denmark
Background. Deep median sternotomy wound infection is a significant source of morbidity and mortality after cardiac operations. Management of an infected median sternotomy incision is a subject of controversy. The aim of this study was to assess our experience with primary closure without any irrigation system for infected deep median sternotomy wound.
Methods. Between January 1994 and December 1997, 4227 consecutive open heart procedures via a median sternotomy under cardiopulmonary bypass were performed in our department. A total of 27 (0.64%) consecutive patients with deep sternotomy wound infection were identified. The mean age of the patients was 45 years. Six were female and 21 were male.
Results. The incidence of deep sternal wound infection was therefore 0.64%. The mean duration between the primary operation and the onset of deep sternal wound infection was 2.5 weeks. Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis were the most common pathogen causing postoperative mediastinal infection. Out of the 27 cases, 17 were successfully treated, 8 (30%) died and 2 had a persistent fistula. The mean follow-up time was 18 months (range 4 to 52 months). The mortality in the pediatric group was 4/8 (50%) and 4/19 (21%) in the adult group. The mortality for mediastinitis presenting before one week or after 4 weeks after operation was 63%. In contrast, the mortality for mediastinitis presenting after one week but before 4 weeks after operation was 17%.
Conclusions. Mediastinitis after cardiac surgical procedures remains a devastating complication. Primary closure without irrigation-suction system should only be considered in selected patients.