Major postoperative infections (MPIs) are poorly understood complications of cardiac surgery. We examined the epidemiology, microbiology, and outcome of MPIs occurring after cardiac surgery.
The study cohort was drawn from the Society of Thoracic Surgeon National Cardiac Database and comprised adults who underwent cardiac surgery at 5 tertiary hospitals between 2000 and 2004. We studied the incidence, microbiology, and risk factors of MPI (bloodstream or chest wound infections within 30 days after surgery), as well as 30-day mortality. We used multivariate regression analyses to evaluate the risk of MPI and mortality.
MPI was identified in 341 of 10,522 patients (3.2%). Staphylococci were found in 52.5% of these patients, gram-negative bacilli (GNB) in 24.3%, and other pathogens in 23.2%. High body mass index, previous coronary bypass surgery, emergency surgery, renal impairment, immunosuppression, cardiac failure, and peripheral/cerebrovascular disease were associated with the development of MPI. Median postoperative duration of hospitalization (15 days vs 6 days) and mortality (8.5% vs 2.2%) were higher in patients with MPIs. Compared with uninfected individuals, odds of mortality were higher in patients with S aureus MPIs (adjusted odds ratio, 3.7) and GNB MPIs (adjusted odds ratio, 3.0).
Staphylococci accounted for the majority of MPIs after cardiac surgery. Mortality was higher in patients with Staphylococcus aureus- and GNB-related MPIs than in patients with MPIs caused by other pathogens and uninfected patients. Preventive strategies should target likely pathogens and high-risk patients undergoing cardiac surgery.