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Although risk factors for surgical site infection (SSI) after cardiovascular (CV) surgery have been well-documented among adults, few studies have been conducted in children. We performed a case-control study to identify risk factors for hospitalized SSI in children undergoing CV surgery.National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance System criteria were used prospectively to identify cases of hospitalized SSI in patients who underwent CV surgery. Seventy-nine patients who underwent CV surgery without hospitalized SSI were randomly selected as controls. Cases were compared with controls to determine preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative risk factors for hospitalized SSI. Multivariable logistic regression was performed.An SSI developed in 19 of the 826 patients who underwent CV surgery (2.3 cases per 100 surgeries) during the study period. Infection was limited to soft tissue in 12, whereas deeper infection occurred in 7. Causative agents included Staphylococcus aureus (11), coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (5) and Escherichia coli (2). One patient did not have a pathogen isolated. In a multivariable analysis, duration of surgery (odds ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 1.8) and age <1 month (odds ratio, 14; 95% confidence interval, 3.3 to 58.4) were independently associated with SSI.Age <1 month and longer duration of surgery were independently associated with hospitalized SSI after CV surgery in children.