Objective: This retrospective investigation describes the infectious morbidity of patients following radical vulvectomy with or without inguinal lymph node dissection. Methods: The charts of patients undergoing radical vulvectomy between January 1, 1986, and September 1, 1989, were reviewed for age, weight, cancer type, tumor stage, operative procedure(s), prophylactic antibiotic and its length of use, febrile morbidity, infection site, culture results, significant medical history, and length of use and number of drains or catheters used. Results: The study group was composed of 61 patients, 14 of whom underwent a radical vulvectomy and 47 who also had inguinal lymph node dissection performed. Twenty-nine patients (48%) had at least 1 postoperative infection. Five patients (8%) had 2 or more postoperative infections. The site and incidence of the infections were as follows: urinary tract 23%, wound 23%, lymphocyst 3%, lymphatics (lymphangitis) 5%, and bowel (pseudomembranous colitis) 3%. The most common pathogens isolated from both urine and wound sites were Pseudomonas aeruginosa, enterococcus, and Escherichia coli. A significant decrease in wound infection was demonstrated when separate incisions were made for inguinal lymph node dissection (P <0.05). The mean number of days to onset of postoperative infection for wound, urine, lymphatics, lymphocyst, and bowel were 11, 8, 57, 48, and 5, respectively. Conclusions: We conclude that the clinical appearance of post-radical vulvectomy infections is delayed when compared with other post-surgical wound infections. Second, utilizing separate inguinal surgical incisions may reduce infectious morbidity. Finally, tumor stage and type do not necessarily increase the infectious morbidity of radical vulvar surgery.
- Vulvar cancer
- inguinal lymph node dissection
- surgical infections