Use of perioperative mupirocin to prevent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) orthopaedic surgical site infections

J Hosp Infect. 2003 Jul;54(3):196-201. doi: 10.1016/s0195-6701(03)00147-6.


We have examined whether topical perioperative prophylaxis can reduce the incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) surgical site infections (SSIs). Using a controlled before and after approach on patients from four orthopaedic wards, undergoing orthopaedic surgery involving insertion of metal prostheses and/or fixation, received perioperative prophylaxis with nasal mupirocin for five days, and a shower or bath with 2% (v/v) triclosan before surgery (PPNMT). After introduction of PPNMT there was a marked decrease in incidence of MRSA SSIs (per 1000 operations) from 23 in the six months beforehand (period A) to 3.3 (P<0.001) and 4 (P<0.001) in subsequent consecutive six-month periods (B and C, respectively). Of 11 MRSA SSI cases that occurred during periods B and C, only one had actually received PPNMT, and 10 occurred after acute, as opposed to elective, surgery (P<0.001). Point prevalence nasal MRSA carriage decreased from 38% before PPNMT to 23% immediately after, and 20%, 7%, 10% and 8% (P<0.001) at six-monthly intervals post-intervention. Conversely, the prevalence of nasal MRSA carriage in a control elderly medicine ward did not change significantly. Vancomycin usage, in terms of defined daily doses, declined by 23%. Low-level mupirocin resistance was found in 2.3% of S. aureus isolates from orthopaedic patients before PPNMT, and in 3.9%, 6.1%, 10% and 0% in subsequent six month periods. No S. aureus isolates with high-level mupirocin resistance were found. PPNMT can reduce the incidence of MRSA SSls after orthopaedic surgery, probably by reducing nasal MRSA carriage in the endemic setting, without selecting for mupirocin resistance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement / adverse effects
  • Baths / methods
  • Carrier State / diagnosis
  • Carrier State / drug therapy
  • Fracture Fixation / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Methicillin Resistance
  • Mupirocin / therapeutic use*
  • Orthopedic Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Perioperative Care / methods*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Staphylococcus aureus*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / microbiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*
  • Triclosan / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Triclosan
  • Mupirocin