Breast implants and infection
Infection is a frequent basis for malpractice complaints. Unfortunately, many hospital-acquired infections are not evidence of sub-standard treatment: these "nosocomial" infections can occur without negligence and are a significant risk for all patients. All-in-all, it is not a healthy thing to gather many sick people under the same roof, penetrate their protective skin on a regular basis, and circulate treaters among them: if we could provide "isolated" care to everyone, infections would be less of a problem.
Nevertheless, as described elsewhere in this blog, effective steps can be taken to minimize the risk of infection, and the Johns Hopkins Checklist emphasizing simple hand-washing demonstrated very encouraging results.
A recent study reported in the Archives of Surgery documented an additional perspective on operative infection. In a St. Louis hospital, 50 of 949 patients receiving breast reconstruction suffered an infection at the site within one year. The infection occured with twice the prevalence among women whose reconstruction included surgical implants. No one offered an explanation for this discrepancy, but it certainly suggests that the introduction of even a sterile foreign body may increase the likelihood of infection. Or, then again, maybe the utilization of one additional foreign body simply increases the potential for contamination.