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Branch-Elliman W, Ripollone JE, O'Brien WJ, Itani KMF, Schweizer ML, Perencevich E, Strymish J, Gupta K. Risk of surgical site infection, acute kidney injury, and Clostridium difficile infection following antibiotic prophylaxis with vancomycin plus a beta-lactam versus either drug alone: A national propensity-score-adjusted retrospective cohort study. PLoS Medicine. 2017 Jul 1; 14(7):e1002340.
BACKGROUND: The optimal regimen for perioperative antimicrobial prophylaxis is controversial. Use of combination prophylaxis with a beta-lactam plus vancomycin is increasing; however, the relative risks and benefits associated with this strategy are unknown. Thus, we sought to compare postoperative outcomes following administration of 2 antimicrobials versus a single agent for the prevention of surgical site infections (SSIs). Potential harms associated with combination regimens, including acute kidney injury (AKI) and Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), were also considered. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Using a multicenter, national Veterans Affairs (VA) cohort, all patients who underwent cardiac, orthopedic joint replacement, vascular, colorectal, and hysterectomy procedures during the period from 1 October 2008 to 30 September 2013 and who received planned manual review of perioperative antimicrobial prophylaxis regimen and manual review for the 30-day incidence of SSI were included. Using a propensity-adjusted log-binomial regression model stratified by type of surgical procedure, the association between receipt of 2 antimicrobials (vancomycin plus a beta-lactam) versus either single agent alone (vancomycin or a beta-lactam) and SSI was evaluated. Measures of association were adjusted for age, diabetes, smoking, American Society of Anesthesiologists score, preoperative methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) status, and receipt of mupirocin. The 7-day incidence of postoperative AKI and 90-day incidence of CDI were also measured. In all, 70,101 procedures (52,504 beta-lactam only, 5,089 vancomycin only, and 12,508 combination) with 2,466 (3.5%) SSIs from 109 medical centers were included. Among cardiac surgery patients, combination prophylaxis was associated with a lower incidence of SSI (66/6,953, 0.95%) than single-agent prophylaxis (190/12,834, 1.48%; crude risk ratio [RR] 0.64, 95% CI 0.49, 0.85; adjusted RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.46, 0.83). After adjusting for SSI risk, no association between receipt of combination prophylaxis and SSI was found for the other types of surgeries evaluated, including orthopedic joint replacement procedures. In MRSA-colonized patients undergoing cardiac surgery, SSI occurred in 8/346 (2.3%) patients who received combination prophylaxis versus 4/100 (4.0%) patients who received vancomycin alone (crude RR 0.58, 95% CI 0.18, 1.88). Among MRSA-negative and -unknown cardiac surgery patients, SSIs occurred in 58/6,607 (0.9%) patients receiving combination prophylaxis versus 146/10,215 (1.4%) patients who received a beta-lactam alone (crude RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.45, 0.83). Based on these associations, the number needed to treat to prevent 1 SSI in MRSA-colonized patients is estimated to be 53, compared to 176 in non-MRSA patients. CDI incidence was similar in both exposure groups. Across all types of surgical procedures, risk of AKI was increased in the combination antimicrobial prophylaxis group (2,971/12,508 [23.8%] receiving combination versus 1,058/5,089 [20.8%] receiving vancomycin alone versus 7,314/52,504 [13.9%] receiving beta-lactam alone). We found a significant association between absolute risk of AKI and receipt of combination regimens across all types of procedures. If the observed association is causal, the number needed to harm for severe AKI following cardiac surgery would be 167. The major limitation of our investigation is that it is an observational study in a predominantly male population, which may limit generalizability and lead to unmeasured confounding. CONCLUSIONS: There are benefits but also unintended consequences of antimicrobial and infection prevention strategies aimed at "getting to zero" healthcare-associated infections. In our study, combination prophylaxis was associated with both benefits (reduction in SSIs following cardiac surgical procedures) and harms (increase in postoperative AKI). In cardiac surgery patients, the difference in risk-benefit profile by MRSA status suggests that MRSA-screening-directed prophylaxis may optimize benefits while minimizing harms in this selected population. More information about long-term outcomes and patient and societal preferences regarding risk of SSI versus risk of AKI is needed to improve clinical decision-making.