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Infect Dis Clin North Am. 1989 Jun;3(2):275-87.

Infections in breast implants.

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Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.


Infection following breast implants is an uncommon event. This is somewhat surprising, since the human breast is not a sterile anatomical structure. The flora found in the breast are derived from the nipple ducts and closely resemble those of normal skin. These organisms, predominantly S. epidermidis, may in some cases be responsible for firmness secondary to capsular contracture. Treatment of the periprosthetic infection usually involves implant removal, but salvage by systemic antibiotics is sometimes possible. Atypical mycobacteria are very rarely the cause of infection, but can be extremely difficult to eradicate when involved. Toxic shock syndrome has been reported to occur following breast implants and is a life-threatening problem requiring immediate removal of the implant. It may be significant that in some cases with effusion and infection occurring many months or years after implant placement, there has been a preceding event such as a laryngitis or flu-like illness. This suggests the possibility of a bacteremia being involved in the causation of the infection. If this were the case, then these patients should be handled in a fashion similar to those with prosthetic heart valves. Accordingly, in our own practice, we advise that penicillin "V" be given beforehand when a patient with breast implants is to have any dental procedure. It must be stressed that there is no statistical or scientific proof at the present time that this is of any value. In conclusion, when dealing with these large foreign bodies, absolute sterility is essential, and excellent surgical technique to obviate hematoma and the occurrence of tissue ischemia is mandatory. Evidence of severe infection necessitates implant removal, but in less severe cases a trial of intravenous antibiotics is permissible. Having removed an implant, further insertion should be deferred, preferably for 6 months. If the new implant can be placed in a different plane, that is, submuscular, this is desirable. Exposed implants can be salvaged but this requires considerable judgment and one should be prepared for re-exposure or frank infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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