Mediastinitis and sternum dehiscence are serious complications after open heart surgery, causing an increase in hospital stay, utilization of health care resources, and mortality. The defect that results after sternal wound debridement frequently necessitates tissue-flap coverage, for which pectoralis major transposition currently is the preferred method. In this study, the postoperative outcome and individual characteristics of patients undergoing pectoralis major transposition were analyzed to identify predictors of complications after wound closure.Methods
A retrospective chart review was conducted, covering a 7-year period, focusing on patient and operation characteristics. All patients with sternum dehiscence, who underwent pectoralis major transposition, were included. All postoperative wound complications were graded according to the Clavien-Dindo classification of surgical complications. Complications were further divided in major and minor. Mortality was defined as death within 30 days after sternal wound repair or during hospital stay.Results
In total, 77 patients underwent a pectoralis major transposition repair of the sternum. Thirty-eight patients (49%) developed a wound complication of which 21 (27%) had a major wound complication. Mortality was 9%. Further analyses of our data showed that smoking and length of operation time were predictors of wound complications (P = 0.018 and P = 0.01). Female sex showed a relation with wound redehiscence (P = 0.014). Postoperative bleeding, for which reoperation was necessary, occurred more often when the humeral insertion of the pectoralis major flap was divided (P = 0.004).Conclusions
Tissue-flap coverage of the sternum using pectoralis major advancement flaps is a procedure that is still hampered by a high postoperative complication incidence. Female sex, smoking, detachment of the humeral insertion and operation time are associated with postoperative wound complications. These results may contribute in improving operative strategy. Also the use of the Clavien-Dindo classification makes underestimation of the complication rate unlikely in this study. The classification can easily be used in future studies, which will enhance comparability of results.