Clinical and Microbiological Characterization of Late Breast Implant Infections after Reconstructive Breast Cancer Surgery

Simonetta Franchelli, Marianna Pesce, Serena Savaia, Anna Marchese, Ramona Barbieri, Ilaria Baldelli, Andrea De Maria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Implant infections represent a relevant problem after immediate breast cancer reconstruction. In addition to difficulties in distinguishing early infections from other post-surgical complications (such as hematoma, seroma, and liponecrosis) late breast implant infections still represent a grey area of our knowledge with regards to heir definition and management. To address this issue, we prospectively monitored breast cancer patients at their center. Methods: Between February 1, 2009, and May 31, 2013, we enrolled all patients undergoing breast implant reconstruction or expander-to-prosthesis substitution. Patients without at least 6mo of post-operative observation were excluded. We collected data from patient records including age, days from surgery (DFS), chemotherapy/radiotherapy, infecting microorganism, type of implant, antibiotic management and eventual implant removal. Sixty days from surgery were defined as the clinical threshold between early and late infection. Infections were further classified according to a graded scale into possible, probable and microbiologically proved. Results: Seventy-eight infections were recorded out of 766 surgical procedures (10.2%). Fifty-three (67%) cases occurred early ≤60 DFS, and 25 (33%) occurred late (i.e., beyond 60d). By defining infection types as possible, probable or proved, the majority of late infections were classified as proved (84%) compared with 56% of early infections (p=0.0014). Microbiological isolate distribution was similar in proved early infections compared with proved late infections. Among late infections, a delayed occurrence was observed after prosthesis placement compared with expander insertion. Late infections were fraught with lower treatment success rates (12% vs. 41%, p=0.009). Conclusion: Late infection represents a consistent proportion of infections after immediate breast implant reconstruction or prosthesis placement and bear lower chance of salvage after treatment. An increased attention is warranted to improve prevention and treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-644
Number of pages9
JournalSurgical Infections
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology (medical)

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