-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- A surgically implanted
antibiotic-infused sponge doesn't lower the rate of sternal wound
infections in patients who've had heart surgery, a new U.S. study
The sternum (breastbone) is cut open during heart surgery.
Previous research has suggested that infection risk can be reduced
if a sponge containing the antibiotic gentamicin is inserted when
surgeons are closing the incision. The gentamicin-collagen sponge
is approved in 54 countries, and more than 2 million of the sponges
have been used in more than 1 million people outside the United
States who underwent a wide range of procedures. (The sponge isn't
approved in the United States.) One study found that the sponge
reduced surgical site infection by 50 percent in cardiac
However, this new study by Duke University Medical Center
researchers found that the sponge doesn't reduce the risk of
sternal wound infections. The study included 1,502 heart surgery
patients enrolled at 48 U.S. sites between December 2007 and March
2009. Half were randomly selected to receive two
gentamicin-collagen sponges between the sternal halves when their
surgical incision was closed, while the other half received no
There was no significant difference in the overall rates of
sternal wound infections between those in the sponge group (8.4
percent) and the control group (8.7 percent), or in rates of
superficial wound infections (6.5 percent versus 6.1 percent), deep
sternal wound infections (1.9 percent versus 2.5 percent), or
rehospitalization for sternal wound infection (3.1 percent versus
3.2 percent), according to the report in the Aug. 18 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
"These findings directly contradict the data previously available on the efficacy of this technology in wound infection prevention," Dr. Elliott Bennett-Guerrero, and colleagues concluded.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
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