World Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery, 2011, 1, 5-10
doi:10.4236/wjcs.2011.12002 Published Online December 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. WJCS
Aortic Graft Complicated by a Corynebacterium Striatum
Infection Due to Previous Type IV Thoraco Abdominal
Aortic Aneurysm Repair
Roberto Gabrielli1, Maria Sofia Rosati2, Giovanni Caselli1, Alessandro Carra1, Andrea Siani1
1Department of Vasc ul a r an d En do vascular Surgery, Policlinico Casilino”, Rome, Italy
2Department of Oncology Policlinico Umberto I, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
E-mail:,, giovannicaselli@virg,,
Received September 25, 2011; revised October 23, 2011; accepted November 2, 2011
We report successful management of aortic graft infection without graft explanation or extra-anatomic by-
pass. A 61 year-old male who had undergone surgical repair of a type IV thoraco-abdominal aortic aneurysm
presented with left flank pain and raised inflammatory markers following graft implantation. CT scanning
revealed a left psoas fluid collection. Graft infection was diagnosed. A radio-guided drainage and conserva-
tive management, with irrigation drain placement was undertaken with preservation of the aortic graft. There
was no evidence of recurrent infection after follow-up at 34 months. Aortic endograft infection may be
managed by surgical or radio-guided drainage, antibiotic irrigation of the graft and systemic antibiotic ther-
apy without graft removal.
Keywords: Aortic Graft Infection, Corynebacterium Striatum, Antibiotic Irrigation
1. Introduction
Aortic stent graft infection is a rare but disastrous com-
plication associated with high mortality. Infection rates
for graft repair of aortic aneurysm are unclear although a
ranging from less than 1% to 6% has been reported [1- 5] .
Corynebacterium striatum is a gram-positive, aerobic,
nonsporulating bacillu s that is part of the normal flora of
the skin and respiratory tract and has a low virulence
thus, when seen in blood cultures it is usua lly considered
a contaminant [6]. Although it has rarely been implicated
as a cause of disease, native valve endocarditis has o cca-
sionally been d e scri bed [7,8].
We report successful surgical management of aortic
graft infection, without graft removal or extra-anatomic
2. Report
A 66-year-old man presented with increasing left flank
pain seven days later the type IV thoraco-abdominal aor-
tic aneurysm repair by a Dacron bifurcated graft: a left
thoracoabdominal incision and extraperitoneal retrone-
phric exposure of the thoracoabdominal aorta, celiac,
superior mesenteric, and left renal arteries is used ac-
cording to the Crawford technique without cardio-pul-
monary bypass. The diaphragm was radially divided to
facilitate thoracoabdominal aortic exposure. TAA repair
is achieved with aortic Carrel patch containing the vis-
ceral arteries. His blood pressure was 150/90 mm Hg and
pulse rate was 102 beats/min on admission. Peripheral
pulses were present and there were no sign of ischemia.
Laboratory tests showed a sedimentation rate of 51 mm/h ,
haemoglobin level of 9.3 g/dl, white blood cell (WBC)
was 12.7 × 109/l, creatinine and potassium level were
The patient continued to experience increasing left
flank pain, associated with elevated C-reactive protein
(CRP) levels. CT scanning 4 days later confirmed suc-
cessful treatment of the type IV thoraco-abdominal aortic
aneurysm, and found no obvious source of intra-ab-
dominal sepsis. A small gas bubble within the aneurysm
sac was felt to be secondary to recent surgical interven-
tion. On the 7th hospital day his temperature increased to
38 8˚C. Blood pressure was 110/70 mmHg, the pulse was
110 beats per minute. The spleen was not palpable and
no peripheral manifestations of endocarditis were found.
Hemoglobin level was 8.9 g/dl, WBC was 18.2 - 109/l
with 88% neutrophils. A chest X-ray revealed a mild
pleural effusion.
A CT scan at 21 days revealed a left psoas abscess
(Figure 1) and this was drained under ultrasound guid-
ance. Intravenous broad-spectrum antibiotics were com-
menced, then changed to vancomycin and metronidazole
Figure 1. CT scan at 21 postoperative days revealed a left psoas abscess.
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Figure 2. CT scan at 30 postoperative days showed a RX -guided drainage in the aneurysm sac.
after culture of Corynebacterium striatum from the aspi-
rate. CT scan 9 days after drainage confirmed abscess
resolution, accompanied by reduction in aneurysm sac
diameter, suggesting communication between sac and
abscess, and graft infection. Symptoms returned one
week later. Three out of four bloo d cultures, obtained on
the day of admission , were positive for C. striatum sensi-
tive to Vancomycin and gentamicyn. CRP levels re-
mained elevated. RX-guided drainage was placed within
the aneurysm sac as shown in Figure 2. Intravenous an-
tibiotic therapy was continued. Post-operatively the pa-
tient was commenced on intravenous Vancomycin and
Metronidazole. Continuous Gentamicin irrigation via the
abdominal drains was performed as described by Morris
et al. [9]. Corynebacterium striatum was cultured from
the aneurysm sac contents, and therapy was confirmed.
No bacterial growth was observed from any drain fluid.
Rapid improvement in analgesic requirement was noted,
together with falling inflammatory markers. Repeat CT
scans 7 and 13 days post-operatively showed no further
collections. Drains were removed sequentially, when no
further drainage was observed.
The patient was discharged 16 days after procedure,
with three further week’s intravenous antibiotics. This
was followed by oral Minociclin for two months. Clini-
cal, inflammatory marker, and CT follow-up to thirty-
one months after sac irrigation shows no evidence of
recurrent infection (Figure 3).
3. Discussion
Aortic graft infection due to non-diphtheriae corynebac-
teria is very infrequent, no report of thoraco-abdominal
graft infection by Corynebacterium striatum was previ-
ously reported; while Endocarditis due to non-diphthe-
riae corynebacteria has been described [10]. In our pa-
tient during the first admission the C. striatum bacterae-
mia was probably a catheter related nosocomial bacte-
raemia. While this may be true in the common case of
endocarditis, the literature concerning the risk benefit
approach to corynebacterial infections, especially on
prosthetic valves, is scarce. We could not find any report
on graft infection cause by C. striatum. We found only
two cases of early endocarditis due to C. striatum on a
prosthetic aortic valve, one case was unsuccessfully
treated by antibiotics alone and a single case on a pros-
thetic aortic valve was successfully treated medically.
The C. striatum in our patient was resistant to all anti-
biotics except vancomycin and gentamicyn. The suscep-
tibility of corynebacteria to antibiotics is variable. Pro-
longed (median duration 6 weeks) parenteral administra-
tion of a bactericidal agent or combined antibiotic treat-
ment is recommended [8]. The optimal duration of anti-
biotic treatment is not known. Based on the few reports
of C. striatum in the literature and according to the rec-
ommended therapy of graft infection caused by more
common pathogens we discontinued vancomycin after 5
Controversy exists about the best operative option for
infected aortic aneurysms. The conventional approach is
removal of graft with aortic stump ligation and extra-
anatomic bypass in the form of either an axillo-
bifemoral or two axillo-unifemoral grafts. The risks of
this treatment is aortic rupture or thrombosis of the extra-
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. WJCS
Figure 3. CT follow-up showed no evidence of recurrent infection.
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Copyright © 2011 SciRes. WJCS
anatomical bypass graft. Alternatively, some authors
suggested the using of inline or in situ graft placement
following thorough debridement of the infected area
Dacron grafts, arterial homografts, or superficial
femoral venous could be used for aortic replacement.
selective approach could be proposed in low-grad e infec-
tion patients by in situ reconstruction, but this approach
could be avoid the aortic stump pseudoaneurysm or aor-
tic rupture. However the incidence of infection recur-
rence is not known.
Some authors have taken a selective approach where-
by in situ reconstruction was performed in cases of low-
grade infection as indicated by a well circumscribed in-
flammatory process in the absenc e of pus. Conversely, if
severe purulent infection is seen traditional teaching dic-
tates removal of the infected graft, oversewing of the
aortic stump and insertion of an extra-anatomic bypass
[11,12]. This management is technically complex and
carries a reported early mortality rate of 24% to 45%
[13-17]. We usually perform an extra-anatomical bypass
if possible, but in our cases this approach is not available
because the anostomosis included the major abdominal
In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the
use of cryopreserved arterial homografts although the
risk of aneurismal dilatation remains [18,19]. Favourable
results with arterial homografts has been reported by
Szilagyi and Kieffer [20-22].
Some authors had documented the use the superficial
femoral vein (SFV) as an arterial substitute in the repair
of both non-leaking and leaking mycotic aortic aneu-
rysms as well as for infected aorto-iliac grafts. The ad-
vantage of this conduit over the rest is that it is resistant
to infection and is not prone to aneurismal dilatation.
However, the operative time is invariably longer and
there are morbidity issues relating to the leg incisions.
Our experience of this technique is mainly limited to
early infections, but we suggest it has a place in the
treatment of both early and late p anprosthetic gr aft infec-
tions with anastomotic involvement, providing suture
line integrity is preserved.
We suggest that the more conservative surgical ap-
proach described here, with endograft preservation,
could reduce operative mortality. Placement and securing
of drains is clearly crucial to this ap proach and positions
should be checked by contrast studies if in doubt. se-
quential culture of drain effluent should be performed for
institution of appropriate antimicrobial therapy. In selec-
tively cases our approach permit a superior outcome in
terms of infection-free survival and limb loss, while re-
quiring a single, less hazardous surgical procedure for a
critically ill patient. Morris’s technique could be repre-
sent a significant impro ve ment in the mana ge ment of th is
major complication of vascular surgery.
Our conservative proposed approach should be applied
with caution and needs close follow-up on a long-term
basis. To our knowledge few case series in conservative
graft infection treatment have been reported. We suggest
this approach in carefully considered single cases.
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