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The Most Common Serious Infection Following Heart Surgery is Pneumonia

cxr pneumonia


Contrary to the expectations of most of the surgeons, it has been found that pneumonia is the most common serious side effect following heart surgery. The new research, presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2011, states that deep infection at the site of the surgical incision is not the commonest reason behind infection after heart surgery.
According to Dr. Michael A. Acker, the chief of cardiovascular surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and the lead author of the study,  pneumonia usually occurs two weeks after the heart surgery. The researchers reached these conclusions after analyzing about 5,100 patients who underwent heart surgeries at nine American and one Canadian Hospitals. The average age of the patients was 64. It was seen that in 42% of the cases, major infection occurred after the patients had been discharged from the hospital and the median time of infection was 14 days after the surgery. Around 742 patients returned to the hospital with secondary infections. Of these, 278 were of major category while 464 were minor. Among the major infections, pneumonia accounted for 2.4% of all infections, followed by C. difficile colitis in 1%, blood stream infections in 0.7% and deep infection at the surgical site in just 0.5%. Minor infections mainly comprised of UTI and superficial infection of surgical site.
The researchers noticed that conditions like congestive heart failure, use of corticosteroids, lung diseases and the duration of bypass surgery increased the likelihood of developing infections subsequent to heart surgery. Operations like isolated coronary bypass graft and surgeries of the aortic and mitral valves are most commonly followed by infection.
The researchers plan to focus on the difference in antibiotics used, surgical preparations, types of dressings used, etc in different patients to find out which of these is associated with a reduced rate of secondary infection. This will help the surgeons in modifying their surgical practices in a manner so that infection following a heart surgery is brought down.
Monday, September 1, 2014