Prevention and control of surgical site infections: review of the Basel Cohort Study

Junker, Till; Mujagic, Edin; Hoffmann, Henry; Rosenthal, Rachel; Misteli, Heidi; Zwahlen, Marcel; Oertli, Daniel; Tschudin-Sutter, Sarah; Widmer, Andreas F; Marti, Walter R; Weber, Walter P (2012). Prevention and control of surgical site infections: review of the Basel Cohort Study. Swiss medical weekly, 142, w13616. Muttenz: EMH Schweizerischer Ärzteverlag 10.4414/smw.2012.13616

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INTRODUCTION: Surgical site infections (SSI) are the most common hospital-acquired infections among surgical patients, with significant impact on patient morbidity and health care costs. The Basel SSI Cohort Study was performed to evaluate risk factors and validate current preventive measures for SSI. The objective of the present article was to review the main results of this study and its implications for clinical practice and future research. SUMMARY OF METHODS OF THE BASEL SSI COHORT STUDY: The prospective observational cohort study included 6,283 consecutive general surgery procedures closely monitored for evidence of SSI up to 1 year after surgery. The dataset was analysed for the influence of various potential SSI risk factors, including timing of surgical antimicrobial prophylaxis (SAP), glove perforation, anaemia, transfusion and tutorial assistance, using multiple logistic regression analyses. In addition, post hoc analyses were performed to assess the economic burden of SSI, the efficiency of the clinical SSI surveillance system, and the spectrum of SSI-causing pathogens. REVIEW OF MAIN RESULTS OF THE BASEL SSI COHORT STUDY: The overall SSI rate was 4.7% (293/6,283). While SAP was administered in most patients between 44 and 0 minutes before surgical incision, the lowest risk of SSI was recorded when the antibiotics were administered between 74 and 30 minutes before surgery. Glove perforation in the absence of SAP increased the risk of SSI (OR 2.0; CI 1.4-2.8; p <0.001). No significant association was found for anaemia, transfusion and tutorial assistance with the risk of SSI. The mean additional hospital cost in the event of SSI was CHF 19,638 (95% CI, 8,492-30,784). The surgical staff documented only 49% of in-hospital SSI; the infection control team registered the remaining 51%. Staphylococcus aureus was the most common SSI-causing pathogen (29% of all SSI with documented microbiology). No case of an antimicrobial-resistant pathogen was identified in this series. CONCLUSIONS: The Basel SSI Cohort Study suggested that SAP should be administered between 74 and 30 minutes before surgery. Due to the observational nature of these data, corroboration is planned in a randomized controlled trial, which is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Routine change of gloves or double gloving is recommended in the absence of SAP. Anaemia, transfusion and tutorial assistance do not increase the risk of SSI. The substantial economic burden of in-hospital SSI has been confirmed. SSI surveillance by the surgical staff detected only half of all in-hospital SSI, which prompted the introduction of an electronic SSI surveillance system at the University Hospital of Basel and the Cantonal Hospital of Aarau. Due to the absence of multiresistant SSI-causing pathogens, the continuous use of single-shot single-drug SAP with cefuroxime (plus metronidazole in colorectal surgery) has been validated.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Zwahlen, Marcel


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




EMH Schweizerischer Ärzteverlag




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:36

Last Modified:

09 Sep 2017 22:03

Publisher DOI:


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URI: (FactScience: 221348)

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