The vacuum-assisted closure device as a bridge to sternal wound closure

Robert E. Hersh, Jason M. Jack, Mohammed I. Dahman, Raymond F. Morgan, David B. Drake

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88 Scopus citations


Sixteen patients were treated for sternal wound infections after undergoing cardiac procedures. Their management involved prompt surgical debridement and quantitative wound biopsies. At the time of the initial debridement, the Vacuum-Assisted Closure Device (V.A.C.) was placed in the open sternal wound. A subatmospheric environment was maintained by the device at a level of 75 to 150 mmHg. The V.A.C. sponge was changed every 2 to 3 days, and operative debridement was performed until quantitative biopsies showed resolution of infection or until systemic signs of sepsis had resolved. At this time the sternal wounds were closed with regional muscle flaps. Patients were excluded from the use of the device if the pleural cavity was entered during operative debridement. Fifteen of the 16 patients survived and went on to complete wound healing and discharge from the hospital (average length of stay, 16.7 days). One patient sustained a cardiac dysrhythmia during the muscle flap procedure and died. There were no complications related directly to the use of the V.A.C. It is the opinion of the authors that the V.A.C. offers several advantages over their traditional methods of treatment. They noted improvement in sternal wound stabilization during the perioperative period and a decreased need for paralysis and mechanical ventilation. Wound management was improved by avoiding the need to perform debridement or to make desiccating dressing changes to an open sternum. Moreover, they also think that this device may lessen the risk for ventricular rupture because of better control of the wound environment and markedly improved stabilization of the debrided sternal elements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-254
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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