Deep sternal wound infection following cardiac surgery

Study design

Observational cohort study.

About the project

Deep sternal wound infection (DSWI), also called postoperative or poststernotomy mediastinitis, is a severe complication to cardiac surgery, occurring in 1-4% of cardiac surgery patients. The infection is usually detected within 1-3 weeks postoperatively and both incidence and risk factors have been thoroughly investigated previously. Multiple studies found increased morbidity and mortality, determining DSWI as a serious complication. However, less is known about the long-term outcome of these patients, and risk factors have only been identified in small datasets.

Using the SWEDEHEART database, we include all patients who underwent cardiac surgery in Sweden from 1997 to 2015.


The aim is to identify risk factors and investigate the long-term outcome of deep sternal wound infection (DSWI) following cardiac surgery.


This project is a part of the collaboration between the Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark, the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden, and the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Landspitali University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Project group

  • Alexander Emil Kaspersen, MD
  • Susanne Nielsen, RN, PhD, Associate Professor
  • Andri Wilberg Orrason, MD, PhD
  • Astridur Petursdottir, MD
  • Martin Ingi Sigurdsson, MD, PhD, Professor, Consultant
  • Anders Jeppsson, MD, PhD, Professor, Consultant
  • Tomas Gudbjartsson, MD, PhD, Professor, Consultant


The Departments of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Landspitali University Hospital, as well as Helga og Peter Kornings Foundation.

Published papers

  • Kaspersen, A. E., Nielsen, S. J., Orrason, A. W., Petursdottir, A., Sigurdsson, M. I., Jeppsson, A. & Gudbjartsson, T. (2021). Short- and long-term mortality after deep sternal wound infection following cardiac surgery: experiences from SWEDEHEART. European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. DOI: 10.1093/ejcts/ezab080



Project period

Start: 1 July 2019
End: 1 December 2025