Background: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is emerging as a major problem in vascular surgical practice. The aim of this study was to review the management of patients with MRSA infection complicating vascular surgical operations.
Methods: Data were obtained from the vascular audit, case notes, intensive therapy unit (ITU) notes, high dependency unit (HDU) notes and microbiological records of patients who underwent either arterial reconstruction (n = 464) or limb amputation (n = 110) between April 1994 and October 1998.
Results: Forty-nine vascular surgical patients developed clinical MRSA infection (9%). Clinical MRSA infection in patients who had undergone aorto-iliac reconstruction (n = 18) was associated with a 56% mortality (n = 10) and the most common infections were bacteraemia (55%) and pneumonia (50%). MRSA infection occurred in 17 patients who had undergone infra-inguinal bypass and was associated with a 29% mortality (n = 5). The most common site of MRSA infection was the groin wound (76%) leading to anastomotic dehiscence and death in one patient (11%) and necessitating wound debridement in 4 patients (22%). MRSA infection of the groin wound in the presence of a prosthetic graft (n = 3) led to anastomotic dehiscence in 2 patients, and graft excision in 2 patients. Similar complications were not observed in the presence of an underlying autogeneous long saphenous vein graft (n = 16). MRSA infection following major lower limb amputation (n = 14) was associated with death in 5 patients (36%). Wound infection in 10 amputees (71%) led to revision of the amputation to a higher level in 2 (14%) and wound debridement in 2 (14%).
Conclusions: MRSA infection has a high mortality in vascular surgical patients in general, and following aorto-iliac reconstruction in particular. Autogeneous vein may confer some protection against local complications following groin wound infection. Strategies aimed at reducing the incidence of infection, including strict adherence to infection control procedures, may reduce the severity of this problem.