Illustration(s) pertain to the topic addressed in this publication, not the specific research or data presented in the publication

Aspergillus fumigatus sternal wound infections in patients undergoing open heart surgery


During a 21-month period (July 1986-April 1988), six patients who underwent open heart surgery at Holston Valley Hospital and Medical Center in Kingsport, Tennessee, developed sternal would infections caused by Aspergillus fumigatus. All patients required sternectomy, reconstructive surgery, and long term amphotericin B therapy; no patient died. By univariate analysis, the following were significantly associated with A. fumigatus sternal would infection: chronic lung disease, a recent history of pneumonia, a greater mean number of admission diagnoses, and a particular surgeon. However, multivariate analysis identified chronic lung disease as the only independent risk factor and the best predictor of A. fumigatus sternal wound infections. No factors related to the surgical procedure or operating room personnel were associated with infection. A review of the characteristics of the patients undergoing open heart surgery showed that since 1985, there had been a trend for these patients at Holston Valley Hospital and Medical Center to be older and sicker, which may have contributed to the occurrence of infections never observed before. Despite an extensive investigation, no environmental source for A. fumigatus was identified. A. fumigatus, however, grew from the bronchial washing of one patient at the time the sternal wound infection was diagnosed, and a prospective study showed that the rate of A. fumigatus colonization among open heart surgery patients was the same as the rate of sternal wound infections caused by A. fumigatus. These data suggest that patients with chronic lung disease and respiratory colonization with A. fumigatus are at increased risk for A. fumigatus sternal wound infections after open heart surgery.

Richet HM, McNeil MM, Davis BJ, Duncan E, Strickler J, Nunley D, Jarvis WR, Tablan OC

Am. J. Epidemiol. 1992 Jan;135(1):48-58

PMID: 1736660