Effectiveness of a gentamicin impregnated collagen sponge on reducing sternal wound infections following cardiac surgery: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

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Gentamicin impregnated collagen sponges are licensed for use after cardiac surgery in over 50 countries but their effectiveness at preventing sternal wound infections (SWIs) remains uncertain. The aim of this meta-analysis was to assess the current evidence for effectiveness of such sponges at preventing SWIs in patients after cardiac surgery.


A systematic search of the literature was undertaken and meta-analyses were performed on the results of the identified, eligible studies. Using random effects models, odds ratios (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for all SWIs and deep SWIs for: a) all participants, and b) participants deemed as high risk. RESULTS Three unique randomised controlled trials (published between 2005 and 2010) involving 3,994 participants met the inclusion criteria. There was insufficient evidence of a significant difference between intervention and control groups for all SWIs (all participants: OR: 0.66, 95% CI: 0.39–1.14; high risk participants: OR: 0.60, 95% CI: 0.24–1.52). There was insuf- ficient evidence of a significant benefit of the sponge in deep SWIs across all participants (OR: 0.72, 95% CI: 0.47–1.10) but some evidence of benefit in terms of reducing the incidence of deep SWIs in high risk participants (OR: 0.62, 95% CI: 0.39–0.98).


There is insufficient evidence of the effectiveness (or otherwise) of gentamicin impregnated sponges in preventing SWIs following cardiac surgery. However, some evidence does exist that such sponges can reduce the incidence of deep infections in high risk patients.

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