The consequences of surgical site infections can be severe and range from short-term delays in discharge from the hospital to life-threatening infections such as mediastinitis.


To evaluate the effectiveness of silver-impregnated dressings in decreasing surgical site infections in children after cardiac surgery.


A randomized, controlled trial was used to compare silver-impregnated dressings (59 participants) with standard dressings (58 participants). The study team supervised all dressing changes after a sternotomy and ensured adherence with the hospital’s bundle for reduction of surgical site infections. The ASEPSIS tool was used to evaluate sternal wounds for evidence of infection.


The 2 groups had comparable Risk Adjustment for Congenital Heart Surgery scores, age, sex, weight, height, operating room characteristics, and number of chest tubes and/or pacemaker wires. No surgical site infections occurred in any study participant. Infections did occur, however, during the same period, in cardiac surgical patients who were not enrolled in the study.


The evidence did not support the superiority of silver-impregnated dressings for prevention of surgical site infections in children after cardiac surgery. Adherence to a bundle for prevention of surgical site infections may have decreased the incidence of such infections in the study population during the study period.

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