Definitive closure of the infected median sternotomy wound: a treatment algorithm utilizing vacuum-assisted closure followed by rigid plate fixation

Sara R Dickie, Amir H Dorafshar, David H Song
Annals of Plastic Surgery 2006, 56 (6): 680-5
Mediastinitis and sternal wound dehiscence are devastating and life-threatening complications of median sternotomy incision. Ten consecutive patients between July 2001 and May 2005 were diagnosed with sternal wound infection and dehiscence following median sternotomy. Patients were managed by precise debridement and wound excision in the operating room and then dressed with vacuum-assisted closure device. Intravenous antibiotics were prescribed for wound and blood culture microbiological sensitivity. When wounds were bacteriologically controlled, patients returned to the operating room for definitive closure using rigid sternal plating. All patients were extubated postoperatively. No patients died. Average total hospital stay was 21 days. The pectoralis advancement flap was exclusively used for soft tissue reconstruction in 7 patients. There were 2 cases of chronic superficial sternal infection requiring plate removal; however, bony union of the sternum was achieved in all patients. This treatment algorithm provides a useful management strategy for patients with complicated median sternotomy.

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