Objective: Infective complications following breast implant surgery may result in implant removal. This causes patient distress and is costly to treat. A range of precautions is undertaken at the time of surgery to reduce infection, with varying levels of supporting evidence. This study aimed to determine how frequently and consistently infection prevention precautions are used during breast implant surgery. Methods: Multicenter observational study of surgical practice with real-time data collection during breast implant surgery. Results: From 7 NHS breast units, 121 implant procedures were assessed in 94 patients under the care of 22 consultant surgeons. The commonest procedure was immediate reconstruction (58%; 70/121). All patients were methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (but not methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus) screened. Antibiotics were given at surgery in all cases; 92% (85/94) received postoperative antibiotics. Other precautions included closed glove technique (67%; 63/94), door signs to reduce theater traffic (72%; 68/94), glove changing prior to implant handling (98%; 119/121), laminar air flow theaters (55%; 52/94), disposable drapes (94%; 88/94) and gowns (74%; 70/94), and cavity washing (89%; 108/121). Among the 14 consultants evaluated on more than 1 procedure (range, 2-22; median = 5), only 1 consistently used exactly the same precautions when siting an implant. Conclusion: Despite national guidance, infection prevention measures are not applied consistently during breast implant surgery, with variability between surgeons and within individual surgeon's practice. The introduction of an infection prevention checklist for all breast implant procedures could improve the reliability with which these precautions are undertaken.
Keywords: breast; implant; infection; prophylaxis; reconstruction.