Adding vancomycin to perioperative prophylaxis decreases deep sternal wound infections in high-risk cardiac surgery patients

Sylvia Reineke, Thierry P. Carrel, Verena Eigenmann, Brigitta Gahl, Urs Fuehrer, Christian Seidl, David Reineke, Eva Roost, Magi Bächli, Jonas Marschall, Lars Englberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Perioperative prophylaxis with cephalosporins reduces sternal wound infections (SWIs) after cardiac surgery. However, more than 50% of coagulase-negative staphylococci, an important pathogen, are cephalosporin resistant. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of adjunctive vancomycin on SWIs in high-risk patients. METHODS: We conducted a pre- and postintervention study in an academic hospital. Preintervention (2010-2011), all patients received prophylaxis with 1.5 g of cefuroxime for 48 h. During the intervention period (2012-2013), high-risk patients additionally received 1 g of vancomycin. High-risk status was defined as body mass index ≤ 18 or ≥ 30 kg/m2, reoperation, renal failure, diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or immunosuppressive medication. Time series analysis was performed to study SWI trends and logistic regression to determine the effect of adding vancomycin adjusting for high-risk status. RESULTS: A total of 3902 consecutive patients (n = 1915 preintervention and n = 1987 postintervention) were included, of which 1493 (38%) patients were high-risk patients. In the high-risk group, 61 of 711 (8.6%) patients had SWI before and 30 of 782 (3.8%) patients after the intervention. Focusing on deep SWI (DSWI), 33 of 711 (4.6%) patients had DSWI before and 13 of 782 (1.7%) patients afterwards; the absolute risk difference of 2.9% yielded a number-needed-to-treat of 34 to prevent 1 DSWI. Corrected for high-risk status, adding vancomycin significantly reduced the overall SWI rate (odds ratio 0.42, 95% confidence interval 0.26-0.67; P < 0.001) and the subset of DSWI (odds ratio 0.30, 95% confidence interval 0.14-0.62; P = 0.001). The rate of SWI in low-risk patients remained unchanged. CONCLUSIONS: Adding vancomycin to standard antibiotic prophylaxis in high-risk patients significantly reduced DSWI after cardiac surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberezx328
Pages (from-to)428-434
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Antibiotic prophylaxis
  • Cardiac surgery
  • Sternal wound infection
  • Surgical site infection
  • Vancomycin


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