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Am J Infect Control. 2009 Oct;37(8):674-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2009.02.010. Epub 2009 Jun 24.

Surveillance, control, and prevention of surgical site infections in breast cancer surgery: a 5-year experience.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, National Cancer Institute, Tlalpan, Mexico.



We analyzed variations in surgical site infections (SSIs) during 5 years of a prospective surveillance program and investigated possible contributors to SSIs in a cohort of patients who underwent surgery for breast cancer.


All breast surgeries performed between January 2001 and December 2005 were registered. Patients were followed-up by direct observation for at least 30 days under standardized conditions. The main outcome studied was SSI. A case-control analysis was conducted to identify SSI-associated risk factors and to evaluate SSI variations by means of a control chart.


During the study period, a total of 2338 breast cancer surgeries were recorded, and 441 SSIs (18.9%) were diagnosed. SSI frequency varied across the 5-year period, with a sharp decline seen after the introduction of preventive policies. After 2002, 3 out-of-confidence limits of SSIs were observed, 2 related to the use of evacuation systems and 1 associated with a group of rotating residents. Concomitant preoperative chemoradiation (odds ratio [OR]=3.47; 95% confidence interval [CI]=2.51 to 4.80), hematoma (OR=3.05; 95% CI=1.70 to 5.52), age > or = 58 years (OR=1.83; 95% CI=1.27 to 2.65), body mass index > or = 30.8 (OR=1.58; 95% CI=1.14 to 2.18), and duration of surgery > or = 160 minutes (OR=1.73; 95% CI=1.20 to 2.50) were found to be SSI-associated risk factors.


After 5 years of a continuous prospective surveillance program, we were able to decrease the rate of SSIs in patients undergoing breast cancer surgery (from 33.3% in 2000 to 18.9% in 2005), identify SSI-associated risk factors, and improve the quality of care delivered to these patients.

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