Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Mediastinitis after cardiac surgery

Anne Eklund

Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Department of Surgery, Jorvi Hospital.

Mediastinitis as a complication after cardiac surgery is rare but disastrous increasing the hospital stay, hospital costs, morbidity and mortality. It occurs in 1-3 % of patients after median sternotomy. The purpose of this study was to find out the risk factors and also to investigate new ways to prevent mediastinitis.

First, we assessed operating room air contamination monitoring by comparing the bacteriological technique with continuous particle counting in low level contamination achieved by ultra clean garment options in 66 coronary artery bypass grafting operations. Second, we examined surgical glove perforations and the changes in bacterial flora of surgeons' fingertips in 116 open-heart operations. Third, the effect of gentamicin-collagen sponge on preventing surgical site infections (SSI) was studied in randomized controlled study with 557 participants. Finally, incidence, outcome, and risk factors of mediastinitis were studied in over 10,000 patients.

With the alternative garment and textile system (cotton group and clean air suit group), the air counts fell from 25 to 7 colony-forming units/m3 (P<0.01). The contamination of the sternal wound was reduced by 46% and that of the leg wound by >90%. In only 17% operations both gloves were found unpunctured. Frequency of glove perforations and bacteria counts of hands were found to increase with operation time. With local gentamicin prophylaxis slightly less SSIs (4.0 vs. 5.9%) and mediastinitis (1.1 vs. 1.9%) occurred. We identified 120/10713 cases of postoperative mediastinitis (1.1%). During the study period, the patient population grew significantly older, the proportion of women and patients with ASA score >3 increased significantly. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, the only significant predictor for mediastinitis was obesity.

Continuous particle monitoring is a good intraoperative method to control the air contamination related to the theatre staff behavior during individual operation. When a glove puncture is detected, both gloves are to be changed. Before donning a new pair of gloves, the renewed disinfection of hands will help to keep their bacterial counts lower even towards the end of long operation. Gentamicin-collagen sponge may have beneficial effects on the prevention of SSI, but further research is needed. Mediastinitis is not diminishing. Larger populations at risk, for example proportions of overweight patients, reinforce the importance of surveillance and pose a challenge in focusing preventive measures.

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© University of Helsinki 2006

Last updated 18.04.2006

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