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Prior skin infections boost risks after surgery

Article-Prior skin infections boost risks after surgery

Baltimore — Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine say surgical patients with a history of even a single skin infection may be three times more likely to develop a painful — and potentially deadly — surgical-site infection than those with no such history.

The researchers say the increased risk suggests underlying biological differences in the way individuals respond to skin cuts, and that those differences need to be better understood in order to prevent surgical-site infection, reports.

Investigators analyzed data compiled before, during and after surgery for 613 patients, with an average age of 62, whose surgery was performed at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Center between February 2007 and August 2010. About 22 percent had a history of skin infection.

Twenty-four patients developed a surgical-site infection within 180 days of surgery, and five of them died from the condition. Another 15 died from noninfectious causes. Of those who had a history of skin infection, 6.7 percent got a surgical-site infection compared with 3.9 percent of those who had no history of skin disease. It made no difference whether the infection was recent or had occurred years earlier.

Although the research does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between past skin infection and surgical-site infection, the researchers say the association between them is strong and should not be dismissed.

The study was published online in Annals of Surgery.

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