Vancomycin Paste Does Not Reduce the Incidence of Deep Sternal Wound Infection After Cardiac Operations

Heather L. Lander, Julius I. Ejiofor, Siobhan McGurk, Kaneko Tsuyoshi, Prem Shekar, Simon C. Body

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background Deep sternal wound infection (DSWI) is a devastating complication that increases morbidity and death in cardiac surgical patients. Vancomycin is often administered intravenously for antibiotic prophylaxis in cardiac operations. Many cardiac surgeons also apply vancomycin paste topically to the sternal edges. We examined the effect of vancomycin paste on the incidence of DSWI in patients undergoing elective cardiac operations. Methods We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all patients from 2003 to 2015 who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting, valve, or combined coronary artery bypass grafting and valve operations at a single institution. We derived The Society for Thoracic Surgeons (STS) DSWI risk index for each patient and systematically reviewed operative, pharmacy, microbiology, and discharge records to document DSWI in these patients. Multivariate analyses were used to identify predictors of DSWI in this cohort and to quantify the effect of vancomycin paste. Results Of the 14,492 patients whose records we examined, DSWI developed in 136 patients, resulting in an overall incidence of 0.9%. After multivariate analysis, body mass index, New York Heart Association Functional Classification, and the STS DSWI risk index remained statistically significant and associated with DSWI. Although the incidence of DSWI decreased over time, the use of vancomycin paste was not associated with a reduced incidence of DSWI. Conclusions There was a marked decrease in the incidence of DSWI during the study period, concurrent with institutional implementation of revised STS antibiotic dosing guidelines in 2007 and other strategies. However, the application of vancomycin paste to the sternal edges of patients undergoing cardiac operations was not associated with a reduced risk of DSWI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-503
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


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