Open Heart Surgery Infections
(Technically speaking, an open heart surgery is any procedure where the chest is opened, which certainly includes procedures beyond a heart bypass (a valve replacement, for example). However, because a heart bypass is the most common type of open heart surgery, for the purposes of this article, we will be using the terms "bypass" and "open heart surgery" interchangeably.)
Despite the current sterile techniques used for all surgeries, infections are always a possibility after open heart surgery. The treatment options will vary, depending on the location of the infection. Infections with open heart surgery can range from minor skin infections that are only treated with antibiotics, and possibly a few extra days in the hospital, to a major infection.
Major infections can occur in the breastbone or within the chest cavity. Infection of the breastbone is one of the most serious open heart surgery infections. These problems can require a repeat of the surgery or removal of the breastbone, and may even result in loss of life. If an infection does develop, your doctor will discuss the treatment options for your particular situation.