Background: Necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTI) represent a heterogeneous group of rapidly progressive skin and soft tissue infections associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Efforts to identify factors associated with death have produced mixed results, and little or no data is available for other adverse outcomes. We sought to determine whether admission variables were associated with mortality, limb loss, and discharge disposition in patients with NSTI.
Methods: We analyzed prospectively collected data of adult patients with surgically confirmed NSTI from an NSTI registry maintained at a quaternary referral center. Factors independently associated with mortality, amputation, and skilled nursing facility discharge were identified using logistic regression.
Results: Between 2015 and 2018, 446 patients were identified. The median age was 55 years (interquartile range, 43-62). The majority of patients were male (65%), white (77%), and transferred from another facility (90%). The perineum was most commonly involved (37%), followed by the lower extremity (34%). The median number of operative debridements was 3 (interquartile range, 2-4). Overall mortality was 15%, and 21% of extremity NSTI patients required amputation. Age greater than 60 years; creatinine greater than 2 mg/dL; white blood cell count greater than 30 x 10^ /μl, platelets less than 150 × 10/μL, and clostridial involvement were independently associated with greater odds of death; perineal involvement was associated with lower odds of death. Age greater than 60 years; sex, male; nonwhite race; diabetes; chronic wound as etiology; leg involvement; transfer status; and sodium, less than 130 mEq/L were independently associated with amputation. Age greater than 60 years; sex, female; nonwhite race; perineal involvement; and amputation were associated with skilled care facility discharge.
Conclusion: Necrotizing soft tissue infections are a heterogeneous group of infections involving significantly different patient populations with different outcomes; efforts to differentiate and predict adverse outcomes in NSTI should include laboratory data, comorbidities, infection site, and/or etiology to improve predictions and better account for this heterogeneity.
Level of evidence: Prognostic, Level III.