Vacuum-assisted closure therapy for vascular graft infection (Szilagyi grade III) in the groin—a 10-year multi-center experience

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The aim of the study was to evaluate the benefit of vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) therapy in the management of deep, alloplastic graft infections (Szilagyi grade III) in the groin. From 2000 to 2009, we identified and included in our study 72 deep inguinal infections in 68 patients, involving native as well as synthetic graft or patch material. There were 29 early graft infections (<30 days after implantation) and 43 late infections (≥30 days after implantation). Among these, 17 cases involved native grafts/patches (12 grafts and 5 patches), while 55 cases involved non-native grafts/patches [26 polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) grafts and 24 Dacron grafts (Haemashield, Meadox Medical, Boston Scientific Corporation, Natick, NY; Gelsoft graft, Vascutek, Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, Scotland, UK; Intervascular, Mahwah, NJ); INVISTA, and 5 Vascu-Guard bovine pericardial patches; Synovis Surgical Innovation]. All patients were treated with multiple wound debridements, graft salvage, sartorius myoplasty, intravenous antibiotics and VAC therapy until thorough surface healing was achieved. Exclusion criteria were an alloplastic graft infection with proximal expansion above the inguinal ligament, blood culture positive for septicaemia or septic anastomotic herald or overt bleeding. Nine months after initiation of therapy, overall, graft/patch salvage was achieved in 61 of 72 (84·7%) cases. Of the native graft/patch group, infected graft material was replaced with an autogenous great saphenous vein graft or patch in four patients (23·5%). In the non-native group, vein or synthetic graft preservation without revision was achieved in 48 of 55 (87·3%) patients. The mean duration of VAC therapy was 16 ± 7·7 days, and postoperative mean hospital stay was 25·3 ± 8·5 days. In 23 of 72 (31·9%) cases, a secondary closure of the wound was achieved; in the other 49 cases, wound healing was achieved by meshed split-thickness skin grafting. Mean wound healing time for all wounds was 24·3 ± 12·5 days. Specific complications during VAC therapy were wound fluid retention in 2 cases and an increased need for analgesics in 12 cases (16·66%). Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) has been reported to be useful in the treatment of severe wound infections. Even in the presence of synthetic vascular graft material, NPWT can greatly simplify challenging wound-healing problems leading to wound dehiscence and its sequelae. Our long-term experience demonstrates the safety and effectiveness of VAC therapy in the management of deep graft infections.

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