Necrotizing soft tissue infections: Improved outcomes with modern care

Areti Tillou, Charles R. St Hill, Carlos Brown, George Velmahos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The outcome of necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTI) remains unchanged despite advances in care. Reasons cited are changing patterns of causative factors, delays in diagnosis, and inadequate antibiotic coverage and surgical treatment. To document outcomes of NSTI after aggressive management and to identify risk factors of mortality and prolonged hospital stay, we reviewed all our patients with NSTI admitted from January 2000 to January 2002. Causative factors, comorbid conditions, site of NSTI, physiologic parameters, symptoms, diagnostic tests, therapeutic interventions, and outcomes were analyzed. Patients were treated aggressively with antibiotics, admission to ICU, and frequent surgical debridements. Of 46 patients identified, 28 (61%) were admitted in ICU, and eight (17%) died. The patients who died had higher admission white blood cell counts (46 ± 22 vs 22 ± 10 × 103/mm3, P = 0.01), higher admission pain score (8 ± 1 vs 5 ± 3, P = 0.02), longer intervals from admission to antibiotic administration (16 ± 20 vs 6 ± 12 hours, P = 0.02), and fewer surgical debridements (2.6 ± 1.1 vs 3.6 ± 1.7, P = 0.04). No independent risk factors of mortality or ICU admission were identified. We concluded that severe local pain and a significantly elevated white blood cell count on admission should alert the physician to the presence of severe infection and prompt the initiation of expeditious aggressive treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-844
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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