Microbiology Of Surgical Wound Infections

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MICROBIOLOGY OF SURGICAL WOUND INFECTIONS

Wound Infections

Abstract

Surgical site infections (SSIs) are defined as infections occurring up to 30 days after surgery (or up to one year after surgery in patients receiving implants) and affecting either the incision or deep tissue at the operation site. Despite improvements in prevention, SSIs remain a significant clinical problem as they are associated with substantial mortality and morbidity and impose severe demands on healthcare resources. The incidence of SSIs may be as high as 20%, depending on the surgical procedure, the surveillance criteria used, and the quality of data collection. In many SSIs, the responsible pathogens originate from the patient’s endogenous flora. The causative pathogens depend on the type of surgery; the most commonly isolated organisms are Staphylococcus aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci, Enterococcus spp. and Escherichia coli. Numerous patient-related and procedure-related factors influence the risk of SSI, and hence prevention requires a ‘bundle’ approach, with systematic attention to multiple risk factors, in order to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination and improve the patient’s defences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for the prevention of SSIs emphasise the importance of good patient preparation, aseptic practice, and attention to surgical technique; antimicrobial prophylaxis is also indicated in specific circumstances. Emerging technologies, such as microbial sealants, offer the ability to seal and immobilise skin flora for the duration of a surgical procedure; a strong case therefore exists for evaluating such technologies and implementing them into routine clinical practice as appropriate.

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