Wound Infection Following Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery : Risk Factors and the Experiences of Patients

Abstract: The primary aim was to register the incidence of surgical wound infections (SWI) in sternotomy and leg incisions and potential risk factors for SWI following coronary artery by-pass graft (CAGB) procedures. Patients’ perspectives of SWI and the subsequent treatment were also considered. Risk factors were registered for 374 patients. Patients were contacted by telephone 30 and 60 days after surgery and interviewed according to a questionnaire about symptoms and signs of wound infections. SWI was defined according to The Centers for Disease Control. Patients with mediastinitis were also interviewed within four months about how they experienced care, how they coped and how they thought the mediastinitis would influence their future life. SWIs were diagnosed in 30 % of the patients. Seventy-three percent of the SWIs of the leg were diagnosed within 30 days of surgery and 27% were diagnosed within 31 to 60 days. Female gender and use of a monofilament suture for skin closure were the most important risk factors for SWI of the leg. Low preoperative haemoglobin concentration was the most important risk factor for sternal SWI. Patients with mediastinitis had higher BMI and had more often received erythrocyte transfusions on postoperative day 2 or later than those without infections. Patients without a diagnosis of diabetes who had increased blood glucose concentrations during the intermediate postoperative period had an increased risk of mediastinitis. It was not possible to separate the effect of diabetes as a risk factor for SWI from that of hyperglycaemia as such. Patients’ experiences were influenced by the staffs’ medical knowledge, how care was given and how well information was provided. Perceived danger and stress influenced how they coped with the situation. The patients believed that the mediastinitis would not affect the final outcome of the CABG procedure, even though their confidence in this was influenced by uncertainties about the rehabilitation process.