Antifungal Therapy in Fungal Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections

Mitri K. Khoury, Christopher A. Heid, Michael W. Cripps, Maryanne L. Pickett, Madhuri B. Nagaraj, Meagan Johns, Francesca Lee, Sara A. Hennessy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTIs) are life-threatening surgical emergencies associated with high morbidity and mortality. Fungal NSTIs are considered rare and have been largely understudied. The purpose of this study was to study the impact of fungal NSTIs and antifungal therapy on mortality after NSTIs. Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed on patients with NSTIs from 2012 to 2018. Patient baseline characteristics, microbiologic data, antimicrobial therapy, and clinical outcomes were collected. Patients were excluded if they had comfort care before excision. The primary outcome measured was in-hospital mortality. Results: A total of 215 patients met study criteria with a fungal species identified in 29 patients (13.5%). The most prevalent fungal organism was Candida tropicalis (n = 11). Fungal NSTIs were more prevalent in patients taking immunosuppressive medications (17.2% versus 3.2%, P = 0.01). A fungal NSTI was significantly associated with in-hospital mortality (odds ratio, 3.13; 95% confidence interval, 1.16-8.40; P = 0.02). Furthermore, fungal NSTI patients had longer lengths of stay (32 d [interquartile range, 16-53] versus 19 d [interquartile range, 11-31], P < 0.01), more likely to require initiation of renal replacement therapy (24.1% versus 8.6%, P = 0.02), and more likely to require mechanical ventilation (64.5% versus 42.0%, P = 0.02). Initiation of antifungals was associated with a significantly lower rate of in-hospital mortality (6.7% versus 57.1%, P = 0.01). Conclusions: Fungal NSTIs are more common in patients taking immunosuppressive medications and are significantly associated with in-hospital mortality. Antifungal therapy is associated with decreased in-hospital mortality in those with fungal NSTIs. Consideration should be given to adding antifungals in empiric treatment regimens, especially in those taking immunosuppressive medications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-192
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungal
  • Antimicrobial
  • Emergency general surgery
  • Necrotizing fasciitis
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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