Article Abstract

Is sternal rewiring mandatory in surgical treatment of deep sternal wound infections?

Authors: Aref Rashed, Karoly Gombocz, Nasri Alotti, Zsofia Verzar


Background: Deep sternal wound infections (DSWIs) are a rare but serious complication after median sternotomy, and treatment success depends mainly on surgical experience. We compared treatment outcomes after conventional sternal rewiring and reconstruction with no sternal rewiring in patients with a sternal wound infection.
Methods: We retrospectively enrolled patients who developed a DSWI after an open-heart procedure with median sternotomy at the Department of Cardiac Surgery, at the St. Rafael Hospital, Zalaegerszeg, Hungary, between 2012 and 2016. All patients received negative pressure wound and antibiotic therapy before surgical reconstruction. Patients were divided into groups determined by the reconstruction technique and compared. Subjects were followed up for 12 months, and the primary end-points were readmission and 90-day mortality.
Results: Among 3,177 median sternotomy cases, 60 patients developed a DSWI, 4 of whom died of sepsis before surgical treatment. Fifty-six patients underwent surgical reconstruction with conventional sternal rewiring (23 cases, 41%) or another interventions with no sternal refixation (33 cases, 59%). Eighty-one percent of sternal wound infections followed coronary bypass surgery (alone or combinated with another procedures), and 60% were diagnosed after hospital discharge. Staphylococcus aureus was cultured in 30% of all wounds and, 56.5% of cases reconstructed by sternal rewiring vs. 26.5% with no sternal rewiring, (P=0.022). Hospital readmission occurred in 63.6% of the sternal rewiring group vs. 14.7% of the no sternal rewiring group. The rate of death before wound healing or the 90th postoperative day was 21.7% in the sternal rewiring group vs. 0% in the no sternal rewiring group. The median hospital stay was longer in the sternal rewiring group than in the other group (51 vs. 30 days, P=0.006).
Conclusions: Sternal rewiring may be associated with a higher rate of treatment failure than other forms of treatment for sternal wound infections.