Fungal Infections Increase the Mortality Rate Three-Fold in Necrotizing Soft-Tissue Infections

Christopher B. Horn, Brendan M. Wesp, Nicholas B. Fiore, Rohit K. Rasane, Marlon Torres, Isaiah R. Turnbull, Obeid N. Ilahi, Laurie J. Punch, Grant V. Bochicchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Necrotizing soft-Tissue infections (NSTIs) result in significant morbidity and mortality rates, with as many as 76% of patients dying during their index admission. Published data suggest NSTIs rarely involve fungal infections in immunocompetent patients. However, because of the recent recognition of fungal infections in our population, we hypothesized that such infections frequently complicate NSTIs and are associated with higher morbidity and mortality rates. Methods: A prospectively maintained Acute and Critical Care Surgery (ACCS) database spanning 2008-2015 and including more than 7,000 patients was queried for patients with NSTIs. Microbiologic data, demographics, and clinical outcomes were abstracted. Risk factors and outcomes associated with NSTI with positive intra-operative fungal cultures were determined. Frequencies were compared by χ2 and continuous variables by the Student t-Test using SPSS. Because the study included only archived data, no patient permission was needed. Results: A total of 230 patients were found to have NSTIs; 197 had intra-operative cultures, and 21 (10.7%) of these were positive for fungi. Fungal infection was more common in women, patients with higher body mass index (BMI), and patients who had had prior abdominal procedures. There were no significant differences in demographics, co-morbidities, or site of infection. The majority of patients (85.7%) had mixed bacterial and fungal infections; in the remaining patients, fungi were the only species isolated. Most fungal cultures were collected within 48 h of hospital admission, suggesting that the infections were not hospital acquired. Patients with positive fungal cultures required two more surgical interventions and had a three-fold greater mortality rate than patients without fungal infections. Conclusions: This is the largest series to date describing the impact of fungal infection in NSTIs. Our data demonstrate a three-fold increase in the mortality rate and the need for two additional operations. Consideration should be given to starting patients on empiric anti-fungal therapy in certain circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-798
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical infections
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2017


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