Sternal exploration or closureVAC - vacuum-assisted closure - sternal wound; Sternal dehiscence; Sternal infection
When you have open heart surgery, the surgeon makes a cut (incision) that runs down the middle of your chest bone (sternum). The incision usually heals on its own. But sometimes, there are complications that require treatment.
Two wound complications that can happen within 30 days of open heart surgery are:
- Infection in the wound or chest bone. The symptoms can be pus at the incision, a fever, or feeling tired and sick.
- The sternum separates into two. The sternum and chest become unstable. You might hear a clicking sound in the sternum when breathing, coughing, or moving around.
Kulaylat MN, Dayton MT. Surgical complications. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 12.
Lazar HL, Salm TV, Engelman R, Orgill D, Gordon S. Prevention and management of sternal wound infections. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2016;152(4):962-972. PMID: 27555340 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27555340.