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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A retrospective study of risk factors for poor outcomes in methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection in surgical patients

Kelechi C Eseonu1*, Scott D Middleton1 and Chinyere C Eseonu2

Author Affiliations

1 Orthopaedic Trauma Unit, Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, EH16 4SA, UK

2 University College London Medical School, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6NT, UK

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2011, 6:25  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-6-25

Published: 23 May 2011



Since its isolation, Methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus aureus (MRSA) has become a major cause of hospital acquired infection (HAI), adverse patient outcome and overall resource utilisation. It is endemic in Scotland and widespread in Western hospitals. MRSA has been the subject of widespread media interest- a manifestation of concerns about sterile surgical techniques and hospital cleanliness. This study aimed to investigate patient outcome of MRSA infections over the last decade at a major orthopaedic trauma centre. The objective was to establish the association of variables, such as patient age and inpatient residence, against patient outcome, in order to quantify significant relationships; facilitating the evaluation of management strategies with an aim to improving patient outcomes and targeting high-risk procedures.


This is a retrospective study of the rates and outcomes of MRSA infection in orthopaedic trauma at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. Data was collated using SPSS 14.0 for Windows(R). Shapiro-Wilkes testing was performed to investigate the normality of continuous data sets (e.g: age). Data was analysed using both Chi-Squared and Fisher's exact tests (in cases of expected values under 5)


This study found significant associations between adverse patient outcome (persistent deep infection, osteomyelitis, the necessity for revision surgery, amputation and mortality) and the following patient variables: Length of inpatient stay, immuno-compromise, pre-admission residence in an institutional setting (such as a residential nursing home) and the number of antibiotics used in patient care. Despite 63% of all infections sampled resulting from proximal femoral fractures, no association between patient outcome and site of infection or diagnosis was found. Somewhat surprisingly, the relationship between age and outcome of infection was not proved to be significant, contradicting previous studies suggesting a statistical association. Antibiotic prophylaxis, previously identified as a factor in reducing overall incidence of MRSA infection, was not found to be significantly associated with outcome.


Early identification of high-risk patients as identified by this study could lead to more judicious use of therapeutic antibiotics and reductions in adverse outcome, as well as socioeconomic cost. These results could assist in more accurate risk stratification based on evidence based evaluation of the significance of the risk factors investigated.