Background: Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) is a rapidly progressive and life-threatening infection. This study aimed to investigate the clinical characteristics and mortality- associated factors in diabetic patients.
Methods: Detailed clinical information of 165 NF cases was retrospectively collected and analyzed in National Taiwan University Hospital between January 1997 and February 2013. We documented and compared the clinical features according to the presence of underlying diabetes mellitus, and we identified risk factors associated with mortality.
Results: There were 84 patients (51 %) with diabetes. The overall case fatality rate was 29.7 %, and we found no significant difference between the patients with or without diabetes. Compared with the nondiabetic patients, diabetic patients were older and exhibited higher serum levels of glucose and potassium on admission. Polymicrobial infection and monomicrobial NF caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae were also more frequently associated with diabetic patients. Moreover, diabetic NF patients exhibit a significantly higher chance of limb loss during hospitalization. In the combined diabetic and nondiabetic cohort, a high serum level of potassium (odds ratio, 2.2; 95 % confidence interval, 1.2 to 4.02; P = 0.011) on admission was independently associated with mortality, whereas positive blood culture on admission was associated with mortality in the diabetic cohort (odds ratio, 7.36; 95 % confidence interval, 1.66 to 32.54; P = 0.009).
Conclusions: Diabetic patients are more susceptible to NF caused by polymicrobial infection or K. pneumoniae, and they are more likely to receive limb amputation for infection control. Bacteraemia on admission is a significant risk factor for mortality in diabetic NF patients.