Early emergency general surgery is associated with a higher incidence of clostridium difficile infection

Adrian A. Coleoglou Centeno, Christopher B. Horn, Rohit K. Rasane, Jose A. Aldana, Qiao Zhang, Kelly M. Bochicchio, Grant V. Bochicchio, Obeid N. Ilahi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-15
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical infections
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Clostridium difficile
  • emergency general surgery
  • general surgery
  • health-care-associated infection


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