Staph Infection Risk Rises With Brain, Chest Surgeries

THURSDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- Post-surgical staphylococcus aureus infections occur most frequently among patients who've had major chest or head operations, a new study finds.

Commonly known as staph infections, S.aureus is among the most common type of hospital-acquired contagion.

For this study, researchers analyzed 81,267 patients who underwent 96,455 orthopedic, cardiothoracic (chest), plastic surgery or neurosurgery (brain surgery) procedures at nine community hospitals and two tertiary care hospitals between 2003 and 2006.

Out of these patients, 454 developed staph infections, including 317 surgical site infections and 188 bloodstream infections. Fifty-one patients had both types of infections. The highest rates of bloodstream infections occurred after operations on the chest, and the highest rates of surgical site infections took place after operations on the brain.

"The key message is that one prevention strategy does not fit all. There may be additional preventions needed for cardiovascular or neurosurgical procedures that are not necessary for plastic or orthopedic surgery," lead author Dr. Deverick Anderson, an infectious diseases specialist at Duke University Medical Center and the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, said in a Duke news release.

Approaches that target only methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) will likely fail to prevent many infections, according to the researchers. "On average, MRSA was present in only half of the infections that we identified," Anderson said.

The findings appear online and in the July print issue of the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

The study was funded by Merck & Co., which was not involved in the data analysis.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Duke Medicine, June 7, 2010, news release.