A series of 92 adult patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery was reviewed to distinguish routine postoperative radiographic alterations from signs of clinically significant complications. Two postoperative complications required decisive clinical intervention: mediastinal hemorrhage (7% of cases) and sternal wound infections (3% of cases). Mediastinal hemorrhage was most often diagnosed by excessive bloody mediastinal tube drainage alone, although progressive mediastinal widening and pleural or apical extrapleural hematomas provided corroborating or, rarely, the sole evidence of mediastinal hemorrhage. Sternal wound infections were most often diagnosed clinically, but increasing pre- and retrosternal gas collections provided radiographic confirmation. Atelectasis was the most common postoperative finding. There were many abnormal gas and soft-tissue collections postoperatively that were notable for their lack of clinical importance. Serial postoperative films were necessary to demonstrate the progression of radiographic findings which indicate the two important postoperative complications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging