From: Reuters
Published January 21, 2008 04:14 PM

Infections after breast surgery found to be costly

CHICAGO (Reuters) - More than one in 20 patients undergoing breast surgery later developed infections at incision sites, according to a study released on Monday, a complication that was more common than thought.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the infection rate following breast removal surgery at 2 percent, although earlier surveys put it at anywhere between 1 percent and 28 percent.

In the two-year study published in this month's issue of the Archives of Surgery, 5.3 percent, or 50, of nearly 950 patients developed infections within a year of their procedures, either inside and outside of the hospital. The average time between surgery and infection was 47 days.

"The surgical site infection rates following breast surgery seem to be much greater than the nationally reported incidence of 2 percent and much higher than what is expected for clean surgical procedures," Margaret Olsen of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis wrote in her report.


Olsen urged hospitals take greater care by making sure preventive antibiotics are administered correctly before surgery, maintaining meticulous hand hygiene and ensuring timely removal of wound drains.

The cost of follow-up medical care ranged widely, but was put by the study at roughly $4,000 per patient.

Infections have taken on fresh urgency amid a rise in drug-resistant staph infections contracted both inside and outside of hospitals.

Roughly one in eight women in the study who had a cancerous breast removed and then underwent breast reconstruction with an implant developed an infection. The infection rate was 7 percent among those who had breast reconstruction using tissue taken from the abdomen, which was also an area where infections struck.

Infections occurred among 4 percent of women undergoing a mastectomy only, and among just 1 percent of those having breast reduction surgery.

(Reporting by Andrew Stern; editing by Michael Conlon and Patricia Zengerle)

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