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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2006 Oct;25(10):619-26.

Risk factors for bacteremia in patients with limb cellulitis.

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Internal Medicine Service, Sierrallana Hospital, Barrio de Ganzo s/n, Torrelavega, Cantabria, and Clinical Pharmacology Service, University Hospital Marqués de Valdecilla, Santander, Spain.


The aim of this study was to identify the risk factors for bacteremia in patients with limb cellulitis. Using the administrative and microbiology laboratory databases of a community teaching hospital, a review was conducted of all cases of community-acquired limb cellulitis that occurred during the period 1997-2004 and in which blood cultures had been performed. A comparison of demographical, clinical, and analytical data of patients with bacteremia versus patients without bacteremia was performed by univariate and multivariate analyses. Of 2,678 patients with cellulitis who presented to the hospital's emergency department, 308 were diagnosed with limb cellulitis and had blood cultures. Of these, 57 (18.5%) had bacteremia. In 24 of the 57 (42.1%) patients with bacteremia, the microorganism isolated in blood cultures was non-group-A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus, and in another 14 (24.6%), the microorganism identified was a gram-negative bacterium. Staphylococcus aureus was determined as the cause of bacteremia in just 6 (10.5%) patients and group A Streptococcus in 2 (3.5%). By logistic regression analysis, the following factors were associated with bacteremia: absence of previous antibiotic treatment (OR 5.3, 95% CI 1.4-20.3), presence of two or more comorbid factors simultaneously (OR 4.3, 95% CI 1.6-11.7), length of illness<2 days OR 2.44, 95% CI 1.07-5.56), and proximal limb involvement (OR 6, 95% CI 3.03-12.04). Patients with limb cellulitis who exhibit any of these characteristics are at increased risk of bacteremia. In such patients, it is imperative that blood cultures be performed.

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