Delayed sternal closure following cardiac operations

E. Milgater, G. Uretzky, D. V. Shimon, S. Silberman, A. Appelbaum, J. B. Borman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 13 patients, sternal closure was delayed at the end of open heart procedures. Seven patients underwent coronary artery bypass surgery (CAB), 5 valve replacements, and one left ventricular aneurysmectomy and closure of post myocardial infarction VSD. In all, primary closure of the sternum was considered impossible or inadvisable. The major indications for delaying sternal closure were: cardiac dilatation with tamponade-like behaviour upon attempted sternal closure (8 patients); intractable bleeding; intractable arrhythmia; insertion of mediastinal assist devices and intraoperative non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema. In all, only the skin was closed. Delayed sternal closure (DSC) was performed 36-120 hours later on 10 of the patients, when their condition had stabilized. Nine patients are long term survivors. None of these patients hads developed mediastinitis, wound infection, osteomyelitis or instability of the sternum. The judicious use of DSC in selected situations has several advantages: hemodynamic deterioration from pressure upon the heart may be prevented; a quick access to the heart in case of tamponade or intractable arrhythmia is obtained; insertion of mediastinal assist devices is facilitated. With careful technique the risk of infection is low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-331
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes


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