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Open Forum Infect Dis. 2019 Feb 15;6(3):ofz083. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofz083. eCollection 2019 Mar.

History of Depression and Increased Risk of Sternal Wound Infection After Cardiothoracic Surgery: A Novel and Potentially Modifiable Risk Factor.

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Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York.
Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York.
Department of Biostatistics, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York.
Department of Infection Prevention and Control, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York.
Department of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York.



Sternal wound infection (SWI) is a leading cause of postoperative disease and death; the risk factors for SWI remain incompletely understood. The goal of the current study was to investigate the relationship between a preoperative history of depression and the risk of SWI after cardiothoracic surgery.


Among patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery in a major academic medical center between 2007 and 2012, those in whom SWI developed (n = 129) were matched, by date of surgery, with those in whom it did not (n = 258). Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine the strength of relationships between risk factors and development of infection. History of depression was defined as a composite variable to increase the sensitivity of detection.


History of depression as defined by our composite variable was associated with increased risk of SWI (adjusted odds ratio, 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-4.7; P = .01). Staphylococcus aureus was the most common organism isolated.


History of depression was associated with increased risk of SWI. Future prospective studies are warranted to further investigate this relationship. Depression is highly treatable, and increased efforts to identify and treat depression preoperatively may be a critical step toward preventing infection-related disease and death.


cardiothoracic surgery; depression; sternal wound infection

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