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Gårdlund B. Postoperative surgical site infections in cardiac surgery—an overview of preventive measures. APMIS 2007;115:989–95. Postoperative surgical site infections are a major cause of postoperative morbidity and mortality in cardiac surgery. A surgical site infection occurs when the contaminating pathogens overcome the host defense systems and an infectious process begins. Bacteria may enter the operating site either by direct contamination from the patient's skin or internal organs, through the hands and instruments of the surgical staff or by bacteria-carrying particles that float around in the operating theatre and may land in the wound. The ability to withstand the contaminating bacteria depends on both local and systemic host defense. Successful preventive strategies are multiple and must include: 1) Minimizing the bacterial contamination of the surgical site (skin preparation, operating room ventilation, scrubbing, double gloving, etc.), 2) Minimizing the consequences of virulent contaminating bacteria by antibiotic prophylaxis (adequate dose, sort, timing, duration), 3) Minimizing injury to local host defense (atraumatic surgery, no excessive electrocautery, meticulous hemostasis, etc.), and 4) Optimizing general host defense (nutrition, tobacco smoking, weight loss, etc.). Compliance with these preventive procedures must be enforced through regular reviews of performance. Non-compliance with hygiene routines is often due to ignorance and poor planning. Education of personnel in these issues is a continuous process.