Use of the Greater Omentum for Reconstruction of Infected Sternotomy Wounds: A Prognostic Indicator


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Abstract

Introduction:Use of the omentum for poststernotomy mediastinitis is typically viewed as a last resort. Formal debridement and muscle flap coverage is sufficient most of the time; however, there are situations when the omental flap is more appropriate. The purpose of this series is to critically evaluate the outcome in those patients who require omental flap reconstruction of poststernotomy mediastinitis.Methods:A retrospective review was performed on consecutive patients undergoing omentum flap transposition for poststernotomy mediastinitis from 1990–2005 at Emory University Hospitals. Data points queried included patient demographics, risk factors, type of reconstruction, and outcome. Patient survival was determined at 60 days and 1, 3, and 5 years postomentum reconstruction using the Social Security Death Index. These data points were compared with age- and risk-matched patients from our institution, treated during the same time period with muscle flaps alone.Results:Fifty-two patients had omental flap reconstruction, with an average age of 61 years (range: 35 to 78). The average follow-up was 5.1 years (range: 1 day to 15 years). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was the most common organism identified at time of omental transfer (56%). The omentum was used either for primary reconstruction, n = 35/52 (67%), or as a salvage procedure following failed muscle flap coverage, n = 17/52 (33%). Complications included donor site 27%, flap related 23%, and general 71% of patients. Those patients undergoing salvage reconstruction had a proportionally greater 60-day mortality (24%) and complication rate. The overall mortality was higher in those patients who required an omental flap transfer when compared with 52 muscle-flap controls (42% versus 18% at 3 years).Discussion:The greater omentum is still an invaluable tool in the management of mediastinal wound infections when other options have failed or are insufficient. Although reliable and well indicated, the omental flap appears to be a marker for increased mortality, especially when used as a salvage procedure. This association is not directly related to the omental flap but rather to the complexity of the clinical situation leading up to its use. Patients who require omental flap coverage should be counseled and treated appropriately.

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