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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 12:34 EDT

Breast Surgery Infections More Frequent than Estimated

January 22, 2008

According to a two-year study released on Monday in the January issue of the Archives of Surgery, breast surgery complications are more common than previously estimated. The study revealed that more than one in twenty patients who had breast surgery developed infections at incision sites.

This number is incredibly high compared to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate of a two percent infection rate. The rate is actually closer to 5.3 percent, or 50 out of 950 patients. These patients typically developed an infection within the first 47 days after surgery.

Margaret Olsen of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis thinks that hospitals should maintain proper hygiene practices and correctly administer preventive antibiotics as well as remove wound drains during an allotted time. Olsen states that the surgical site infection rates are “much higher than what is expected for clean surgical procedures.”

Not only are many of these infections urgent, follow-up care costs a great deal as well. The average cost is about $4,000 per patient.

Of those studied, infection occurred in one in eight women who had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery using an implant. Infections occurred in four percent of women who had only a mastectomy and seven percent of those who had reconstructive surgery using tissue from the abdomen. Only one percent of women who had breast reduction surgery became infected.

On the Net:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Washington University School of Medicine