Vacuum-Assisted Closure for the Treatment of Deep Sternal Wound Infection After Pediatric Cardiac Surgery

Gilad Sherman, Orit Shulman-Manor, Ovadia Dagan, Gilat Livni, Oded Scheuerman, Gabriel Amir, George Frenkel, Itzhak Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Vacuum-assisted closure is being increasingly used to treat deep sternal wound infection following cardiac surgery, but most of the data refer to adults. This study investigated the safety and efficacy of vacuum-assisted closure in pediatric patients. Design: Retrospective file review. Setting: Tertiary pediatric medical center. Patients: All children with deep sternal wound infection treated with vacuum-assisted closure in 2003-2016. Interventions: Epidemiological, clinical, and microbiological data were collected from the medical records. Measurements and Main Results: The cohort included 50 patients (0.9% of cardiac patients operated during the study period) of median age 6.5 months (interquartile range, 2-12.75 mo; range, 1 wk to 14 yr) and median weight 5.1 kg (interquartile range, 4-9.75 kg). The most frequent heart defects were tetralogy of Fallot (22%) and ventricular septal defect (20%); 38% of patients had cyanotic heart disease. Deep sternal wound infections appeared a median of 10 days postoperatively (interquartile range, 7-14 d; range 3-100 d). Vacuum-assisted closure was applied a median of 13 days postoperatively (interquartile range, 10-18.5 d; range, 5-103 d) for a median duration of 10 days (interquartile range, 7-13.25 d; range, 1-21 d). Wound cultures were positive in 48 patients (96%); most isolates were Gram-positive (76%). The main bacterial pathogen was methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (61%). Most patients were treated with cloxacillin for a median of 38 days (interquartile range, 28-42 d; range, 9-189 d). There were no statistically significant differences in clinical or treatment characteristics between bacteremic (56%) and nonbacteremic patients. Compared with older patients, infants less than 3 months old (36%) had a significantly longer hospitalization time (41 vs 25 d; p = 0.001) and higher Society of Thoracic Surgeons-European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery Mortality Category (3 vs 2; p = 0.003). All cases except one (contact dermatitis) were uneventful. In 10 patients, wounds were closed surgically after vacuum-assisted closure. Two patients required a pectoralis flap, both treated before 2005. One of the two deaths was infection-related. Conclusions: Vacuum-assisted closure is a feasible treatment option of deep sternal wound infection after pediatric cardiac surgery and was not associated with independent morbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-155
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • children
  • sternal wound infection
  • vacuum-assisted closure


Dive into the research topics of 'Vacuum-Assisted Closure for the Treatment of Deep Sternal Wound Infection After Pediatric Cardiac Surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this