Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections in Intensive Care

Alexandru Ogica, Christoph Burdelski, Holger Rohde, Stefan Kluge, Geraldine de Heer
Journal of Intensive Care Medicine 2021 April 26, : 8850666211010127

BACKGROUND: Necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTIs) are typically characterized by extensive soft tissue destruction with systemic signs of toxicity, ranging from sepsis to septic shock. Our aim was to analyze the clinical characteristics, microbiological results, laboratory data, therapies, and outcome of patients with NSTIs admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU).

METHODS: A monocentric observational study of patients admitted to the ICU of a university hospital between January 2009 and December 2017. The demographic characteristics, comorbidities, clinical features, microbiology and laboratory results, organ dysfunctions, therapies, and outcome were retrospectively analyzed.

RESULTS: There were 59 patients and 70% males. The mean age (± SD) was 55 ± 18; type II (monomicrobial) NSTI was present in 36 patients (61%); the most common isolated pathogen was Streptococcus pyogenes in 28 patients (48%). Septic shock was diagnosed in 41 patients (70%). The most common organ dysfunctions were circulatory and renal in 42 (71%) and 38 patients (64%). The mean value (± SD) of serum lactate at admission to the ICU was 4.22 ± 5.42 mmol/l, the median SOFA score and SAPS II were 7 (IQR 4 - 10) and 46 (IQR 30.5 - 53). ICU mortality rate was 25%. Both SOFA score and serum lactate demonstrated a good prognostic value regarding ICU outcome (OR 1.29, 95%CI 1.07-1.57, P < 0.007 and OR 1.53, 95%CI 1.19-1.98, P < 0.001). A cut-off value for serum lactate of 6.55 mmol/L positively predicted mortality with 67% sensitivity and 97% specificity.

CONCLUSION: NSTIs carry a high risk of septic shock and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and thus are still associated with high mortality. In our study, the value of serum lactate at admission to the ICU correlated well with mortality. This easy-to-measure parameter could play a role in the decision-making process regarding prognosis and continuation of care.

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