Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

The Importance of Early Flap Coverage in Deep Sternal Wounds

Lo, Steven BM BCh, MA, FRCS Plast*; Hutson, Kristian MB BS, MRCS; Hallam, Marc-James BM, BSc (Hons), MRCS; Soldin, Mark MBChB, FCS (SA) Plast Surg, FRCS Plast

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e318284084b
Reconstructive Surgery

Background Chronic or persistent wound infection is one of the key outcome measures after flap reconstruction in deep sternal wound infection (DSWI). This study aimed to assess potentially modifiable factors associated with chronic infection in patients undergoing flap reconstruction.

Materials and Methods An analysis of a prospective database of 5239 median sternotomies performed during a 5-year period was carried out. Seventy-seven cases of DSWI were recorded, of which 23 cases proceeded to flap reconstruction. The flap-reconstructed patients were placed into groups according to the primary outcome measure of those who experienced chronic infection and those who remained infection free.

Results Of the flap-reconstructed patients, 22% experienced subsequent chronic infection, whereas 78% remained infection free. The only 2 variables that were associated with chronic infection were the timing of flap reconstruction; median time 29.5 days (vs 12 days in the infection-free group), P = 0.011 and time taken from diagnosis of wound infection/dehiscence to referral to the plastic surgical team; median 21 days (vs median 8 days in the infection free group), P = 0.02.

Each day of delay from the diagnosis of clinical infection to flap cover equated to an increase in risk of chronic infection of 1.2 times per day (OR = 1.205, P = 0.039).

Conclusions This study suggests that chronic infection after flap reconstruction in DSWI is associated with late flap cover. We suggest the need for a consensus agreement on the combined care and early management of DSWI.

From the *Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow; †St George’s Hospital, Tooting, London; and ‡Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, Portsmouth, Hampshire, United Kingdom.

Received May 2, 2012, and accepted for publication, after revision, December 19, 2012.

Presented at Doctors Updates, France, 2008 and awarded best presentation prize sponsored by Nagor.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.

Reprints: Steven Lo, BM BCh, MA, FRCS Plast, Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit, Jubilee Bldg, Royal Infirmary, 84 Castle St, Glasgow, United Kingdom. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins