Thursday, 4 February 2016

Over Troubled Water: An Outbreak of Infection Due to a New Species of Mycobacterium following Implant-Based Breast Surgery

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: January 2016 - Volume 137 - Issue 1 - p 97–105

Scheflan, M, Wixtrom, R

Summary: Mycobacterial infection is a rare complication associated with breast surgery using implants. Over the course of 5 months, one center experienced 12 such cases, 10 of which were linked to a single surgeon. Most presented 3 to 6 weeks postoperatively with clear serous drainage from the incision, minimal local redness, no fever or other systemic signs of infection, and negative standard bacterial cultures. Patients were given empiric broad-spectrum oral antibiotic therapy. In eight cases, implants were removed and exchanged for new devices after irrigation of the pocket with antibiotics; these patients nonetheless experienced recurrent infection, which led to explantation (without immediate exchange for new implants). The last two patients proceeded straight to explantation. Because mycobacteria grow in water, the water supply and air-conditioning system were initially suspected as the source, and both were disinfected. However, this did not stop the outbreak. Eventually, the source was traced to a new species of mycobacteria isolated from a garden hot tub. These bacteria had then been unwittingly transferred to patients during surgery. A Triclosan-containing shampoo effectively ended the outbreak. This series is unique in several respects: the novelty of the pathogen, the heavy colonization of the surgeon, and the mechanism of transmission (the first occurrence of human-to-human mycobacterial transfer published in the plastic surgery literature). Surgeons who perform breast surgery with implants should be aware of the possibility of mycobacterial infection. Proactive culturing of the organism, use of antibiotics, and reoperation are essential to good outcomes.