Superficial wound dehiscence after median sternotomy: surgical treatment versus secondary wound healing.

Superficial wound dehiscence after midline sternotomy is considered a minor complication in cardiac surgery, although it is quite frequent and requires prolonged medical treatment. It can be managed conventionally by topical treatment, with delayed secondary healing, or by surgical treatment and primary skin closure. We report the outcome of 96 patients who underwent conventional treatment, compared with a second group of 42 patients who underwent surgical treatment and direct closure.
From October 1999 to December 2002, 2400 consecutive patients underwent median sternotomy: 207 patients had sternal wound complications: 3 patients (0.125%) had mediastinitis, 66 patients (2.75%) had aseptic deep sternal wound dehiscence, and 138 patients (5.75%) had superficial wound dehiscence. The latter are the object of the present study; patients entered a protocol of skin wound care on an outpatient basis. The first 96 consecutive patients (group 1) required medications three times a week until complete healing. The last 42 patients (group 2) were treated by extensive surgical debridement of skin and subcutaneous tissue, direct closure of the superficial layers, and suture removal after 15 days.
The two groups were comparable as to age, sex, and preoperative risk factors. The incidence of contaminated wounds was similar in the two groups (32 of 96 in group 1 and 11 of 42 in group 2; p = NS). The length of treatment was 29.7 days (range 2 to 144 days) for group 1 and 12.2 days (range 2 to 37 days) for group 2 (p < 0.0001). The mean number of medical treatments was 9.4 per patient in group 1 and 3.7 per patient in group 2 (p < 0.0001).
Surgical debridement and primary closure of superficial surgical wound dehiscence after median sternotomy is a safe and valid treatment. Wound infection is not a contraindication to surgical treatment. Primary closure may contribute to reduce the risk for later infection. It also definitely contributes to decreasing healing time and strongly lessens patients' discomfort, diminishing hospital costs and hospital staff workload.
AuthorsJacob Zeitani, Fabio Bertoldo, Carlo Bassano, Alfonso Penta de Peppo, Antonio Pellegrino, Fadi M El Fakhri, Luigi Chiariello
JournalThe Annals of thoracic surgery (Ann Thorac Surg) Vol. 77 Issue 2 Pg. 672-5 (Feb 2004) ISSN: 0003-4975 [Print] United States
PMID14759457 (Publication Type: Clinical Trial, Comparative Study, Journal Article)
Chemical References
  • Chloramines
  • chloramine
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care (economics)
  • Bandages
  • Chloramines (administration & dosage)
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Debridement (economics)
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs (statistics & numerical data)
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment (Health Care)
  • Reoperation
  • Risk Factors
  • Sternum (surgery)
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence (economics, surgery)
  • Surgical Wound Infection (economics, surgery)
  • Suture Techniques (economics)
  • Thoracotomy
  • Wound Healing (drug effects, physiology)

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