Risk factors for predicting surgical salvage of sternal wound-healing complications

Lorraine M. Golosow, Jeffrey D. Wagner, Marc Feeley, Thomas Sharp, Robert Havlik, Rajiv Sood, John J. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A retrospective study was performed to determine whether clinical factors can predict which complicated poststernotomy wounds can be managed successfully by debridement and reclosure, and which wounds require a muscle flap for healing. Between January 1990 and December 1996, 3,435 median sternotomies were performed at Indiana University Medical Center and affiliated hospitals. A total of 91 patients (2.6%) were reoperated for sternal wound-healing complications. Seventy-six patients (83.5%) underwent debridement and rewiring, and 15 patients (16.5%) underwent primary flap coverage. Of the 76 patients who underwent initial rewiring, 45 (59%) healed and 31 (41%) required additional operative procedures. Of the 31 rewiring failures, 26 patients (84%) were healed with muscle flaps and 4 patients (13%) were managed with a second successful rewiring. The following clinical factors were correlated with operative procedure and outcome: history of smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, steroid use, previous sternotomy, age, diabetes, harvest of the left or right internal mammary artery (IMA), emergency operation, operation time, pump time, cross-clamp time, ischemic time, coronary artery bypass grafting alone versus combined with a valve replacement, positive wound cultures, positive blood cultures, elevated white blood cell count, and fever. When comparing patients with successful rewiring with those who had a failed rewiring, positive wound and blood cultures were significant risk factors (p < 0.05) on univariate analysis. Presence of a positive wound culture was significant on multivariate analysis. When comparing risk factors in patients who were rewired successfully versus all patients who had muscle flap coverage, the presence of a positive blood culture was significant on both univariate and multivariate analyses. We conclude patients most likely to fail rewiring and to require muscle flap closure are those with infected wounds, positive blood cultures, and possibly left IMA bypasses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-35
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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