Sternal Wound Complications

Nurse Checks Patient's Chest with Stethoscope

Healing the Right Way

Avoiding sternal wound complications is important because of the potential severity to the patient. Proper care for the wound including stability of the incision site is vital during this phase. These complications are very serious because of the higher rates of morbidity and death from these complications. Upwards of 2.3% of patients may suffer these complications and there is an associated mortality rate of 13% to 52%. Because of the severity of the issue, it’s important to follow doctor instructions carefully and know what to look for.

There are three categories of sternal wound complications: Deep subcutaneous infection. These infections are caused by bacteria that infect the flesh under the incision and can hinder the healing process. Sternal infection. A very serious infection, sternal infections are life-threatening because the bone has been compromised in your chest. Mediastinal Infection with Sternal Dehiscence. This kind of infection occurs as a result of sternal instability and can cause life-threatening illnesses.

The Complication: Mediastinitis

Mediastinitis can lead to sepsis, respiratory insufficiency, or renal failure, which are life-threatening. Mediastinitis occurs because of sternal instability. Patients at a higher risk for mediastinitis are those older than 65 years old and patients suffering from certain medical conditions including diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, COPD and those who have been on preoperative ventilation.

The Solution: Cleaning and Heart Hugger

Mediastinitis is caused by instability of the sternum after surgery. Instability, irritation, or tugging at the incision site can increase the germs and bacteria entering the wound which can increase chances of infection. Keeping the wound site clean is vital. So is keeping it stable. Heart Hugger can help stabilize the sternum with the simple squeeze of a hand. Patients are able to immobilize the areas surrounding the wound with even pressure around the body.

To discuss sternal support options,