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Management of Contaminated Autologous Grafts in Plastic Surgery

Open Science Company, LLC
Publication Date
  • Article
  • Computer Science
  • Medicine


Background: Contamination of autologous grafts unfortunately occurs in plastic surgery, but the literature provides no guidance for management of such incidents. Methods: American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery members were asked to complete an online survey that asked about the number and causes of graft contaminations experienced, how surgeons dealt with the problem, the clinical outcomes, and patient disclosure. Results: Nineteen hundred surgeons were asked to participate in the survey, and 223 responded. Of these, 70% had experienced at least 1 graft contamination incident, with 26% experiencing 4 or more. The most frequently reported reason for graft contamination was a graft falling on the floor (reported by 75%). Nearly two thirds of the contaminated grafts related to craniofacial procedures. Ninety-four percent of grafts were managed with decontamination and completion of the operation. The most common method of decontamination was washing with povidone-iodine, but this practice is contrary to recommendations in the literature. Only 3 surgeons (1.9%) said a clinical infection developed following decontaminated graft use. Patients were not informed in 60% of graft contamination incidents. The survey results and review of the literature led to development of algorithms for the management of inadvertent graft contamination and patient disclosure. Conclusions: Although autologous grafts do become contaminated in plastic surgery, the overwhelming majority can be safely decontaminated and produce minimal or no clinical sequelae. The algorithms presented are intended to serve as guides for prevention of contamination events or for their management should they occur.

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