Mediastinitis costs hospitals thousands of dollars a year and increases the incidence of patient morbidity and mortality. No studies have been done to evaluate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) counts on disposable and nondisposable electrocardiography (ECG) lead wires in pediatric patients.


To compare the cleanliness of disposable and nondisposable ECG lead wires in postoperative pediatric cardiac surgery patients by measuring the quantity of ATP (in relative luminescence units [RLUs]). ATP levels correlate with microbial cell counts and are used by institutions to assess hospital equipment and cleanliness.


A prospective, randomized trial was initiated with approval from the institutional review board. Verbal consent was obtained from the parents/guardians for each patient. Trained nurses performed ATP swabs on the right and left upper ECG cables on postoperative days 1, 2, and 3.


This study enrolled 51 patients. The disposable ECG lead wire ATP count on postoperative day 1 (median, 157 RLUs) was significantly lower (P < .001) than the count for nondisposable ATP lead wires (median, 610 RLUs). On postoperative day 2, the ATP count for the disposable ECG lead wires (median, 200 RLUs) was also lower (P = .06) than the count for the nondisposable ECG lead wires (median, 453 RLUs).


Results of this study support the use of disposable ECG lead wires in postoperative pediatric cardiac surgery patients for at least the first 48 hours as a direct strategy to reduce the ATP counts on ECG lead wires.

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