Heart Surgery Patients Developing Serious Infection

Heart Surgery Patients Developing Serious Infection

Reported November 18, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Heart surgery patients could face major infections well after they leave the hospital. According to a new study pneumonia is the most common serious infection patients face after their procedures.

Researchers analyzed more than 5,100 patients in a heart surgery registry. Patients, average age 64, were treated at nine U.S. academic medical centers and one Canadian center. The median time to major infection was 14 days after heart surgeries. Forty-two percent of all major infections occurred after hospital discharge.

“Half of these patients had no evidence of infection before they were discharged from the hospital. Then they had to return because of the new infection. One implication is that patients must be followed more closely after discharge,” Michael A. Acker, M.D, the study’s lead researcher and professor and chief of cardiovascular surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia was quoted saying.

In this study, which excluded patients who were infected before surgery, researchers found 742 infections: 278 were classified as major infections (occurring in 4.5 percent of patients) and 464 were minor (in 8.1 percent of patients). Of the major infections:

• Pneumonia, infection of the lungs, occurred in 2.4 percent of all patients.
• C. difficile colitis, an intestinal infection, occurred in 1.0 percent.
• Bloodstream infections occurred in 0.7 percent.
• Deep-incision surgical site infections occurred in 0.5 percent.

Minor infections included urinary tract and superficial incision site infections.

“In the next level of analysis, the focus will be on differences in care, from the types of dressings, the types of antibiotics, and the types of surgical preparations, to show what processes of care are associated with decreased incidence of infections. The registry will allow us to modify our best practices to manage post-operative infections,” Acker was quoted saying.

For instance, according to a new study, skin preparation reduces cardiac implantable device infections. Research showed that special skin preparations for 3,700 patients significantly reduced infections from cardiac implantable electronic devices.

Researchers at a Milwaukee hospital washed patients’ skin with a special antibacterial solution the night before and morning of the procedure. They also included a strict three-minute drying time for the surgical skin preparation. These steps decreased implant infection rates from 1 percent to 0.24 percent at a year following the implant placement.

Source: American Heart Association