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Clinical and microbiological features of necrotizing fasciitis.

The microbiological and clinical characteristics of 83 patients with necrotizing fasciitis (NF) treated over a period of 17 years are presented. Bacterial growth was noted in 81 of 83 (98%) of specimens from patients with NF. Aerobic or facultative bacteria only were recovered in 8 (10%) specimens, anaerobic bacteria only were recovered in 18 (22%) specimens, and mixed-aerobic-anaerobic floras were recovered in 55 (68%) specimens. In total, there were 375 isolates, 105 aerobic or facultative bacteria and 270 anaerobic bacteria, for an average of 4.6 isolates per specimen. The recovery of certain bacteria from different anatomical locations correlated with their distribution in the normal flora adjacent to the infected site. Anaerobic bacteria outnumbered aerobic bacteria at all body sites, but the highest recovery rate of anaerobes was in the buttocks, trunk, neck, external genitalia, and inguinal areas. The predominant aerobes were Staphylococcus aureus (n = 14 isolates), Escherichia coli (n = 12), and group A streptococci (n = 8). The predominant anaerobes were Peptostreptococcus spp. (n = 101), Prevotella and Porphyromonas spp. (n = 40), Bacteroides fragilis group (n = 36), and Clostridium spp. (n = 23). Certain clinical findings correlated with some bacteria: edema with B. fragilis group, Clostridium spp., S. aureus, Prevotella spp. and group A streptococci; gas and crepitation in tissues with members of the family Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridium spp.; and foul odor with Bacteroides spp. Certain predisposing conditions correlated with some organisms: trauma with Clostridium spp.; diabetes with Bacteroides spp., members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, and S. aureus; and immunosuppression and malignancy with Pseudomonas spp. and members of the family Enterobacteriaceae. These data highlight the polymicrobial nature of NF.

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