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Open Access Research article

Risk factors, microbiological findings and outcomes of necrotizing fasciitis in New Zealand: a retrospective chart review

Dilip Kumar Das12*, Michael G Baker1 and Kamalesh Venugopal1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand

2 Regional Public Health, Hutt Valley District Health Board, Private Bag 31 907, Lower Hutt, 5040, New Zealand

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2012, 12:348  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-348

Published: 12 December 2012

Abstract

Background

The incidence and mortality from necrotizing fasciitis (NF) are increasing in New Zealand (NZ). Triggered by a media report that traditional Samoan tattooing was causing NF, we conducted a chart review to investigate the role of this and other predisposing and precipitating factors and to document NF microbiology, complications and interventions in NZ.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective review of 299 hospital charts of patients discharged with NF diagnosis codes in eight hospitals in NZ between 2000 and 2006. We documented and compared by ethnicity the prevalence of predisposing and precipitating conditions, bacteria isolated, complications and interventions used.

Results

Out of 299 charts, 247 fulfilled the case definition. NF was most common in elderly males. Diabetes was the most frequent co-morbid condition, followed by obesity. Nearly a quarter of patients were taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Traditional Samoan tattooing was an uncommon cause. Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus were the two commonly isolated bacteria. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was implicated in a relatively small number of cases. Shock, renal failure, coagulation abnormality and multi-organ dysfunction were common complications. More than 90% of patients underwent surgical debridement, 56% were admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) and slightly less than half of all patients had blood product transfusion. One in six NF cases had amputations and 23.5% died.

Conclusion

This chart review found that the highest proportion of NF cases was elderly males with co-morbidities, particularly diabetes and obesity. Tattooing was an uncommon precipitating event. The role of NSAID needs further exploration. NF is a serious disease with severe complications, high case fatality and considerable use of health care resources.

Keywords:
Bacterial infection; Ethnicity; Necrotizing fasciitis; New Zealand; Traditional Samoan tattooing