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Ann Plast Surg. 2019 Aug;83(2):195-200. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000001799.

The Impact of Preoperative Negative-Pressure Wound Therapy on Pectoralis Major Muscle Flap Reconstruction for Deep Sternal Wound Infections.

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University of Milan, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Plastic Surgery School, Department of Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicine BIOMETRA-Plastic Surgery Unit, Humanitas Research Hospital, Rozzano, Milan, Italy.



Deep sternal wound infection (DSWI) represents a life-threatening complication following open-heart surgery and pectoralis major muscle flap reconstruction has led to a significant reduction in mortality and morbidity. Negative-pressure wound therapy represented a step forward in DSWI treatment, both as a single procedure or as a preparation for reconstructive surgery.In the present study, we report our 13 years' experience with sternal reconstruction in order to evaluate the impact of preoperative vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) therapy on reconstructive outcome.


Seventy-three patients diagnosed with DSWI undergoing pectoralis major muscle flap reconstruction were divided into 2 subgroups: preoperative VAC treatment group (n = 37) and no preoperative VAC (NVAC n = 36). We collected patients' DSWI and reconstructive surgery clinical data, and we analyzed surgical outcome in terms of complication rate, reoperation rate, defects closure times, and intraoperative/30-day and 1-year mortality.


Eighty-three flaps were used, bilateral flaps were used more in the NVAC subgroup (P = 0.005), and operative time was significantly shorter in the VAC subgroup (P < 0.001). Complication rate was 9.6%, with no significant differences between the 2 subgroups (P = 0.723). There was no recurrence of mediastinitis, and all flaps survived. Sternal closure time was significantly lower in the VAC subgroup (P < 0.001). No intraoperative death occurred; 30-day and 1-year mortality were 2.7% and 19.2%, respectively, with no significant difference between the 2 groups (P = 0.596).


Preoperative VAC therapy makes reconstructive surgery easier and faster, even though it has no impact on complication rate and overall success of the reconstruction. Pectoralis major muscle flap represents a reliable solution even if not associated with preoperative VAC.

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