Cardiac Injury During Resternotomy Does Not Affect Perioperative Mortality

Peter I. Ellman, Robert L. Smith, Micah E. Girotti, Peter W. Thompson, Benjamin B. Peeler, John A. Kern, Irving L. Kron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: Cardiac injury at the time of resternotomy is a complication faced by all cardiac surgeons, although little is known about its effects on morbidity and mortality. This study was designed to address these questions. Study Design: Resternotomies performed at the University of Virginia from 1996 to 2005 were identified. Operative notes were reviewed, and any injury during resternotomy to the heart, great vessels, or bypass grafts was recorded. Perioperative complications and mortality were recorded using the Society of Thoracic Surgeons National Database. Results: In the 11-year period studied, 612 resternotomies were performed out of 7,872 total adult cardiac procedures (7.8%). Fifty-six patients (9.1%) had an injury sustained during resternotomy and initial dissection. Injury to grafts was most common (46.4%), with mammary arteries comprising 21% of the total and vein grafts, 25%. The right ventricle was the second most commonly injured structure (21.4%). There were no significant differences in overall nonadjusted mortality in the injured group compared with that in the noninjured group (8.9% versus 10.2%, p = 0.66). Multivariate analysis demonstrated third-time resternotomy to be an independent risk factor for cardiac injury (p = 0.04). Conclusions: Cardiac injury at the time of resternotomy is not associated with an increase in perioperative morbidity or mortality. Third-time resternotomy is an independent risk factor for cardiac injury, so vigilance and adequate preparation are paramount in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-997
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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