Staphylococcus aureus and surgical site infection. The benefit of screening and decolonization before surgery

Humphreys, H. et al. Journal of Hospital Infection. Published online: 18 June 2016

Image shows Staphylococcus aureus on ChromID CPS chromogenic agar. Isolate from a urine sample from a 45 year old catheterised male awaiting surgery for a bladder stone.

Surgical site infections (SSIs) are amongst the most common healthcare-associated infections and significantly contribute to patient morbidity and healthcare costs. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common microbial cause.

The epidemiology of S. aureus is changing, with the dissemination of newer clones and the emergence of mupirocin resistance. The prevention and control of SSIs is multi-modal and we have reviewed the evidence for the value of screening for nasal carriage of S. aureus and the subsequent decolonization of patients pre-operatively who are positive. Pre-operative screening, using culture- or molecular-based methods and the subsequent decolonization of patients positive for methicillin-susceptible S. aureus and methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) reduces SSI and hospital stay. This applies especially to major clean surgery, such as cardiothoracic and orthopaedic, involving the insertion of implanted devices.

However, it requires a multi-disciplinary approach coupled with patient education. Universal decolonization pre-operatively without screening for S. aureus potentially compromises the capacity to monitor for the emergence of new clones of S. aureus, contributes to mupirocin resistance, and prevents the adjustment of surgical prophylaxis for MRSA, i.e. the replacement of a beta-lactam agent with a glycopeptides or alternative.

Read the abstract here

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