Vacuum assistance therapy as compared to early reconstructive treatment in deep sternal wound infection

E. Hämäläinen, J. Laurikka, H. Huhtala, O. Järvinen

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Background and Aims: Deep sternal wound infection is a major concern after cardiac surgery. This study describes the incidence of postoperative deep sternal wound infections after cardiac surgery and compares two available treatment modalities. Materials and Methods: In Tampere University Hospital, 7973 open heart operations were performed between 2007 and 2016. Patients treated for a postoperative deep sternal wound infection were categorized in two groups based on treatment: revision surgery with early reconstruction (revision group; 74 patients) or vacuum-assisted closure treatment (VAC group; 55 patients). The end points in comparisons were overall mortality and hospitalization time. Results: A total of 129 patients (1.6%) developed a postoperative deep sternal wound infection. The 30-day mortality rates were 8.1% and 3.6%, the 90-day mortality rates were 15.5% and 18.2%, and the 1-year mortality rates were 17.6% and 23.6% for the revision and VAC group, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference in mortality rates. The hospital stay was 18 days in the revision group and 38 days in the VAC group (p < 0.001). The secondary intensive care unit stay was longer in the VAC group (median 1 vs 4, p = 0.011). The most common pathogens isolated in the first reoperation were coagulase-negative staphylococci (33.8% and 41.8%, respectively; p = 0.366), and positive candida findings were more common in the VAC group (4.1% vs 37.0 %, p < 0.001). Conclusion: Vacuum-assisted closure treatment induces an inferior outcome in terms of fungal infections, treatment times, and the number of reoperations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-253
JournalScandinavian Journal of Surgery
Issue number2
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • candida
  • Cardiac surgery
  • deep sternal wound infection
  • DSWI
  • mediastinitis
  • pressure therapy

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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