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Br J Surg. 2010 Nov;97(11):1722-9. doi: 10.1002/bjs.7261.

National surveillance of surgical-site infection through register-based analysis of antibiotic use after inguinal hernia repair.

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Strama-the Swedish Strategic Programme Against Antibiotic Resistance, Uppsala, Sweden.



Systematic surveillance of surgical-site infections is not standard. The aim of this retrospective cohort study was to evaluate the feasibility of using existing national health registers for surveillance of postoperative antibiotic treatment suggestive of surgical-site infection.


Data from national registers on hospital admissions and drug use were combined. Antibiotic purchases by 8856 patients subject to ambulatory care for inguinal hernia repair in Sweden during 2006 were ascertained during a 30-day interval immediately after surgery (postsurgical period) and in an 11-month control period (6 months before and 5 months after the postsurgical period).


The incidence of first purchases of skin and soft tissue antibiotics was 245 per 8697 person-months in the first postoperative month and 180 per 52 612 person-months in the preoperative control period, representing a 1-month risk difference of 2.4 (95 per cent confidence interval (c.i.) 2.0 to 2.7) per cent. Hence, a 1-month risk of 2.4 per cent could be attributed tentatively to the surgery. The rate of episodes with antibiotics used mainly for skin and soft tissue infection was sevenfold higher in the first postoperative month than in the control period (rate ratio 7.01, 95 per cent c.i. 5.94 to 8.27).


The risk of antibiotic treatment during the postsurgical period was of the same order of magnitude as infection rates reported in the Swedish Hernia Register and review studies. Surveillance of postoperative antibiotic use may be considered as a resource-saving surrogate marker for surgical-site infections or an indicator of inappropriate use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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