Association of sternal wound infection with parasternal muscle sutures

Kenneth D. Stahl*, Harry K. Moon, Margaret J. Gorensek, Patrick McCarthy, Delos M. Cosgrove

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Sternal wound infection complicating open-heart surgery is a potentially devastating complication that has been associated with a number of risk factors. We recently consulted on three consecutive patients with this complication who had heavy nonabsorbable parasternal sutures placed in muscle tissue adjacent to the sternum. The atom of this report is to document our findings and caution that this technique to control bleeding from the parasternal intercostal muscles my increase risk of infection. Methods: The pathology, surgical findings, and microbiology of these three cases are analyzed for similarity and possible cause of infection. Results: By surgical observation and culture reports, each infection appeared to have originated at the site of nonabsorbable suture in devascularized parasternal muscle tissue. Sinus tracts could be probed to a similar site in each patient. Conclusion: Placement of sutures in the parasternal muscles where the sternal wires wrap around the bone leads to compression and necrosis of muscle tissue. We caution that this technique to control bleeding may cause a nidus of infection and increase the risk of deep sternal wound infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-501
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cardiac Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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