Necrotizing soft tissue infections: Obstacles in diagnosis

Sean T. Lille, Thomas T. Sato, Loren H. Engrav, Hugh Foy, Gregory Jurkovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: This study was done to identify obstacles in the early diagnosis and treatment of necrotizing soft tissue infections. STUDY DESIGN: A ten-year retrospective case series was analyzed. RESULTS: Data from 29 patients were analyzed. Among patients undergoing early operation within 24 hours of admission (n=17) there was one death (6 percent mortality rate); survivors averaged 2.9 operations per patient. By comparison, of patients with delayed operation (n=12) three died (25 percent mortality rate) and there were 3.6 operations per patient. Positive fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of suspicious lesions, demonstrating either pus or bacteria by Gram's stain, led to early operation in 80 percent of patients tested. Patients with soft tissue gas on radiographs were more likely to undergo early operation (58 percent). Delayed operation was more common in the absence of radiographic findings. All patients admitted to nonsurgical services had delayed operations. CONCLUSIONS: Suspected necrotizing soft tissue infections require prompt surgical evaluation and early operative exploration. Early operation with definitive surgical therapy initiated within 24 hours of admission is associated with decreased mortality rates. Negative FNA findings, nondiagnostic radiographs, and admission to a nonsurgical service correlate with delay in definitive operative intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-11
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Necrotizing soft tissue infections: Obstacles in diagnosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this