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Breast Tissue Expander—Related Infections: Perioperative Antimicrobial Regimens

  • George M. Viola (a1), Issam I. Raad (a1) and Kenneth V. Rolston (a1)



The rate of postmastectomy tissue expander (TE) infection remains excessively high, ranging between 2% and 24%. We hypothesized that current perioperative antimicrobial regimens utilized for breast TE reconstruction may be outdated as a result of recent changes in microflora and susceptibility patterns.

Design and Methods.

We reviewed the records of all patients who had a TE reconstructive procedure and developed a definite breast TE infection between 2003 and 2010 at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Antimicrobials were stratified into 3 groups: systemic perioperative, local irrigation, and oral immediate postoperative antimicrobials. These were considered discordant if they did not target the isolated organisms, while a breakthrough infection was defined as an infection that occurred despite concordant antimicrobial coverage.


Overall, 75 patients with a definite TE infection were identified. The most common organisms identified were methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis (29%), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (15%), and gram-negative rods (26%). The use of systemic perioperative antimicrobials was deemed discordant in 51% of the cases. Although 79% of the patients received broad-spectrum perioperative local antimicrobial irrigation, 63% developed a breakthrough infection. Even though 61% received oral postoperative prophylactic antimicrobials, 63% of the times they were deemed discordant.


Contrary to the proven effectiveness of a single dose of perioperative antibiotics, the common use of local antimicrobial irrigation and prolonged postoperative oral antibiotics appears to be an inadequate component of our preventive armamentarium. Also, because methicillin-resistant staphylococcal and pseudomonal infections occurred approximately 60% of the time, at institutions that have observed an increase of these organisms, it may be prudent that perioperative antimicrobials target these microorganisms.


Corresponding author

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Unit 1460, Houston, TX 77030 (


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