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Pectoralis Muscle Flap Reconstruction of Pediatric Sternal Wound Infections

Zabel, David MD*; Eskra, Benjamin D. MD; Laddis, Dimitri BS; Noorchashm, Negin BS; Siewers, Ralph MD; Bentz, Michael L. MD§

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: July 2003 - Volume 14 - Issue 4 - p 512-516
Clinical Notes

Sternal wound infection (SWI) is a life-threatening complication in both the pediatric and adult population. The morbidity and mortality of SWIs have decreased with the use of muscle flap reconstruction of the chest wall. Although the pectoralis muscle flap is the most frequently used flap in adults for reconstruction after SWI, its use in children has not been well described. To review current experience with the use of the pectoralis muscle flap in a pediatric population, a retrospective review of 1,200 consecutive median sternotomies occurring at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh between 1992 and 1997 was performed. All cases of postoperative SWI were identified, and the operative management was performed by a single surgeon. Reconstruction was performed with the use of unilateral or bilateral pectoral muscle flap advancements. Sternal wound infections developed in nine patients (0.75% incidence). The mean duration from initial sternotomy to the time of presentation of deep SWI was 39.5 days. Eight patients underwent reconstruction using pectoralis muscle advancement flaps. Two patients (25%) were reconstructed with a unilateral pectoralis advancement flap, whereas six patients (75%) required bilateral advancement flaps. One patient was treated with conservative management. The average length of stay after reconstruction was 9 ± 4 days. Duration of follow-up ranged from 3 to 42 months (mean: 16 ± 12 months). All reconstructions ultimately resulted in well-healed wounds with satisfactory cosmesis. No developmental or functional deficits have been documented in follow-up visits. Sternal wound infection is a serious postoperative complication of median sternotomy. Aggressive operative management with the use of muscle flap reconstruction has helped to lower the morbidity and mortality of this infection. The successful use of pectoralis muscle flap advancement for functional and esthetic reconstruction of the chest wall in children is described.

Madison, Wisconsin

From the *Advanced Plastic Surgery Center, Newark, Delaware; Divisions of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and §Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.

Address correspondence to Dr Bentz, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Wisconsin, 600 Highland Avenue, CSC G5/361, Madison, WI 53792; e-mail:

© 2003 Mutaz B. Habal, MD