Staphylococcus aureus and surgical site infections: benefits of screening and decolonization before surgery

H. Humphreys, K. Becker, P. M. Dohmen, N. Petrosillo, M. Spencer, M. van Rijen, A. Wechsler-Fördös, M. Pujol, A. Dubouix, J. Garau

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Surgical site infections (SSIs) are among the most common healthcare-associated infections, and contribute significantly to patient morbidity and healthcare costs. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common microbial cause. The epidemiology of S. aureus is changing with the dissemination of newer clones and the emergence of mupirocin resistance. The prevention and control of SSIs is multi-modal, and this article reviews the evidence on the value of screening for nasal carriage of S. aureus and subsequent decolonization of positive patients pre-operatively. Pre-operative screening, using culture- or molecular-based methods, and subsequent decolonization of patients who are positive for meticillin-susceptible S. aureus and meticillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) reduces SSIs and hospital stay. This applies especially to major clean surgery, such as cardiothoracic and orthopaedic, involving the insertion of implanted devices. However, it requires a multi-disciplinary approach coupled with patient education. Universal decolonization pre-operatively without screening for S. aureus may compromise the capacity to monitor for the emergence of new clones of S. aureus, contribute to mupirocin resistance, and prevent the adjustment of surgical prophylaxis for MRSA (i.e. replacement of a beta-lactam agent with a glycopeptide or alternative).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-304
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Decolonization
  • MRSA
  • Screening
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Surgical site infection prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Staphylococcus aureus and surgical site infections: benefits of screening and decolonization before surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this