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Review article: Biomedical intelligence

Vol. 143 No. 0304 (2013)

Vascular graft infections

  • Barbara Hasse
  • Lars Husmann
  • Annelies Zinkernagel
  • Rainer Weber
  • Mario Lachat
  • Dieter Mayer
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2013;143:w13754


Vascular procedures are rarely complicated by infection, but if prosthetic vascular graft infection (PVGI) occurs, morbidity and mortality are high. Several patient-related, surgery-related and postoperative risk factors are reported, but they are not well validated. PVGI is due to bacterial colonisation of the wound and the underlying prosthetic graft, generally as a result of direct contamination during the operative procedure, mainly from the patient’s skin or adjacent bowel. There is no consensus on diagnostic criteria or on the best management of PVGI. On the basis of reported clinical studies and our own experience, we advocate a surgical approach combining repeated radical local debridement, with graft preservation whenever possible or partial excision of the infected graft, depending on its condition, plus simultaneous negative-pressure wound therapy (NPWT). In addition, antimicrobial therapy is recommended, but there is no consensus on which classes of agent are adequate for the treatment of PVGI and whether certain infections may be treated by means of NPWT alone. Since staphylococci and Gram-negative rods are likely to be isolated, empirical treatment might include a penicillinase-resistant beta-lactam or a glycopeptide, plus an aminoglycoside, the latter for Gram-negative coverage and synergistic treatment of Gram-positive cocci. Additionally, empirical treatment might include rifampicin since it penetrates well into biofilms.


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