Background: Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is an important surgical complication. Emergency general surgery (EGS) is a developing area of the acute care surgical practice. Few studies evaluating the incidence and risk factors of CDI in this patient population are available. Patients and Methods: A prospectively maintained Acute and Critical Care Surgery registry spanning from 2008 to 2015 was queried for cases of operative EGS with clinical suspicion of CDI post-operatively. Diagnosis of CDI was made using toxin A/B assay in stools. Demographics, co-morbidities, surgical procedures, length of stay (LOS), intensive care unit LOS, antibiotic use, and death were obtained. The patients positive and negative for CDI were compared using chi-squared and Student's t-test. Multi-variable logistic regression was used to determine risk factors for CDI. Results: A total of 550 patients were identified. The total incidence of CDI was 12.7%. There was no significant difference in demographics between CDI positive and negative patients. Average time to CDI diagnosis was 10.1 ± 8.5 days post-operatively. Patients who received three or more antibiotic classes were at higher risk of CDI developing post-operatively (83% vs. 75%, p = 0.04). The CDI positive patients underwent an EGS significantly earlier than CDI negative patients (0.9 ± 2.3 vs. 3.2 ± 9.2 days, p < 0.001). The most common procedures were partial colectomies (21.4%); small bowel resections/repairs (12.9%); gastric repair for perforated peptic ulcer (10%); skin and soft tissue procedure (7.1%), and laparotomies (5.7%). There was no difference in outcomes between the groups. On linear regression, an EGS performed later after admission was an independent risk factor for lower CDI (OR 0.87; CI 95% [0.79-0.96], p < 0.01). Conclusion: Patients undergoing an early EGS have a high incidence of CDI. The number of antibiotic classes administered post-operatively affects CDI status. Bowel resections appear to be at increased risk for CDI. Clinicians should have a high index of suspicion and low threshold for testing C. difficile in high-risk EGS patients.
- Clostridium difficile
- emergency general surgery
- general surgery
- health-care-associated infection