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Risk Prevention > Research and Science > Patients with diabetes have a particularly high risk of postoperative wound infections

Patients with diabetes have a particularly high risk of postoperative wound infections

13.12.2006 The risk of developing a wound infection vary as a function of the site and indication of an operation, and patients with diabetes are at increased risk, according to a study from Australia.

Diabetic persons have a significantly increased risk of postoperative wound infections.

Wound infections after minor surgical procedures tend to be associated with significant morbidity in affected patients. An Australian study has been conducted to identify risk factors for postoperative infection. The odds of developing a wound infection vary as a function of the site and indication of an operation, and patients with diabetes are at increased risk.

In their study Dr. Clare Heal and her colleagues of James Cook University, Mackay, Australia, investigated the infection rates among 857 patients who had to undergo minor surgical procedures at registered physicians with their own practices (Medical Journal of Australia 2006; 185: 255-258). Seventy-four (8.6%) of the patients who underwent surgery developed postoperative wound infections. The investigators identified several factors that had a significant impact on the risk of wound infection. Patients with diabetes were more likely to develop an infection (18.2% vs. 8.4%). In addition excisions on the lower leg and foot, showed more often signs of a postoperative infection. The indication for surgical procedure was also found to have an impact on wound infection risk: Patients who had basal cell cancers or squamous cell carcinomas surgically removed, showed a substantially higher incidence of symptoms of wound infection.

“Our results have identified high-risk groups for wound infections among patients scheduled for operations in the physician's practices”, the authors commented. At particularly high risk are patients with diabetes and those undergoing excisions of non-melanocytic skin tumors or those having an operation on the lower extremities. “In these patients it should be considered whether prophylactic antibiotics administration may be useful”, the investigators recommended. They went on to explain that also other, non-pharmacological interventions that may prevent postoperative wound infections might also be indicated in such patients.