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The design, characteristics and predictors of mortality in the North of England Cellulitis Treatment Assessment (NECTA).

Author(s): Tan R, Newberry DJ, Arts GJ, Onwuamaegbu ME

Affiliation(s): Department of Medicine for the Elderly, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, UK.

Publication date & source: 2007-11, Int J Clin Pract., 61(11):1889-93. Epub 2007 Aug 31.

Publication type: Comparative Study; Multicenter Study

AIMS: Cellulitis is a common cause of acute medical admissions in UK hospitals. The factors that determine susceptibility to an acute admission or to mortality following hospital admission are poorly defined. METHODS: We studied a retrospective cohort of 568 patients with a diagnosis of cellulitis between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2003 in the north-east of England to see whether we could determine these factors. We collected data on the factors that were associated with acute hospital admissions and survival. We used a primary end-point of deaths within 1 year of admission for cellulitis. RESULTS: The characteristics that identified patients at high risk of mortality were present in 39.9% of the cohort studied. The four most common of these characteristics were lower limb oedema 30.1% (95% CI: -26.0 to 34.1), ulceration 24% (95% CI: -20.2 to 27.8), previous myocardial infarction (MI) 19.9% (95% CI: -16.3 to 23.4) and blunt injury 18.7% (95% CI: -15.3 to 22.2). Significant predictors of mortality were: patient's age (p < 0.001), presence of penetrating injury (p < 0.001), previous MI (p < 0.001), presence of liver disease (p = 0.003), presence of lower limb oedema (p = 0.01) and long-term use of drugs that caused sodium and water retention (p < 0.001). Treatment with i.v. flucloxacillin was found to be a significant predictor of survival (odds ratio = 3.43, z =3.42. p < 0.001) at 360 days. CONCLUSION: Our results show that cellulitis as a cause of an acute medical admission may present with a variety of clinical features. Some of these clinical features can be used to predict mortality within 360 days of an acute hospital admission.

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