Risk of Staph Infection from Surgery Higher After Chest and Brain Surgery

The findings of a new study indicate that patients are at a higher risk of contracting staph infection following surgery, including MRSA, when they have chest and brain procedures than with other types of surgical procedures.

The surgical infection study, published in the most recent issue of the medical journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, looked at infection rates following surgeries at hospitals in North Carolina and Virginia, and found that cardiothoracic and neurosurgical procedures resulted in more staph infections than any other type of surgery. The study also determined that just over half of the surgery staph infections were caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is known as the “superbug” because of its resistance to many forms of antibiotic treatment.

The researchers looked at 96,455 surgical procedures performed on more than 80,000 patients at eleven hospitals in North Carolina and Virginia. Overall, they found that surgery site infections and bloodstream infections due to staph occurred about once for every 200 procedures. About 51% of those were MRSA infections.

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Researchers then broke the cases down by types of surgery and found that the highest rate of staph infections, 0.79 infections per 100 procedures, came after cardiothoracic procedures. Cardiothoracic procedures are those that involve organs in the thorax, including the lungs and heart. Neurosurgical, or brain, procedures came in second, with an infection rate of 0.62 infections per 100 procedures. While chest surgery was connected to the highest overall rate, and the highest rate of bloodstream infections, brain surgery was connected to the highest rate of surgical site infections.

MRSA infections, also known as “superbug” infections, have been steadily growing in the U.S. over the last decade. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 2 million hospital infections acquired each year, resulting in about 90,000 deaths annually. Another 1.5 million long term care and nursing home infections occur every year. MRSA, which resists treatment by many antibiotics, has accounted for more than 60 percent of hospital staph infections in recent years.

In recent years, there has been an increasing number of hospital infection lawsuits filed throughout the United States, as experts believe that most of these potentially life-threatening infections can be prevented if steps are taken by the hospital and staff.

In the latest study, researchers concluded that their findings indicate that those preventative steps should include extra care and infection prevention protocols for chest and brain surgery patients.


  • melissiaDecember 19, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Developed severe infection ofpelvis after hsyterectomy last October. Hospital stay of 23 days

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