Antibiotic-laced sponges reduce cardiac surgery infection risk

An extensive meta analysis including data from more than 22,000 patients has demonstrated the benefits of implanting antibiotic-laced sponges into the chest to prevent sternal wound infections following surgery, according to a paper published in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

"The results of the meta-analysis of Kowalewski and co-workers reinforce the concept that the application of topical antibiotics to the sternum during cardiac surgery significantly reduces the incidence of sternal wound infections," Harold L. Lazar, MD, cardiac surgeon at the Boston Medical Center and the Boston University School of Medicine, wrote in an editorial accompanying the report. "Strong consideration should be given to using some form of topical antibiotics in all cardiac surgical patients undergoing median sternotomy."

Though the efficacy of the practice was challenged in a recent study, the evidence yielded from the meta analysis, which combed more than 14 studies, was conclusive, according to the authors. For deep sternal wound infections, the sponges reduced infection risk by 38 percent, and for superficial wounds risk dropped by 40 percent. Use of the sponges also reduced the risk of life threatening inflammation of tissues in the mid-chest following surgery, and researchers noted that use of the sponges had no significant impact on mortality rate.

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