In the Literature: Hospital-Based Research You Need to Know


Clinical question: Is routine preoperative urine screening beneficial?

Background: The value of preoperative urine screening is unproven, except before urologic procedures. Furthermore, treatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria may lead to adverse events, including diarrhea, allergic reactions, and Clostridium difficile infection (CDI).

Study design: Retrospective chart review.

Setting: Patients who underwent cardiothoracic, orthopedic, and vascular surgeries at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2010.

Synopsis: A total of 1,934 procedures were performed on 1,699 patients, most of which were orthopedics procedures (1,291 in 1,115 patients). A urine culture was obtained before 25% of procedures with significant variation by service (cardiothoracic, 85%; vascular, 48%; orthopedic, 4%). Bacteriuria was detected in 11% of urine cultures (54 of 489), but antimicrobial drugs were dispensed to just 16 patients.

To identify correlates of preoperative urine culture use, patients with and without urine cultures were compared. The rate of surgical-site infection was similar for both groups. Postoperative UTI was more frequent among patients with bacteriuria. Rates of diarrhea, allergy, and CDI did not differ. Paradoxically, patients treated for preoperative UTI were more likely to develop surgical-site infections (45% vs. 14%; P=0.03). Postoperative UTI was also more frequent among treated patients versus untreated patients (18% vs. 7%).

Bottom line: This is the largest study to assess outcomes for routine preoperative urine cultures. These findings demonstrate that preoperative screening for, and treatment of, asymptomatic bacteriuria should be avoided in patients undergoing nonurologic surgical procedures.

Citation: Drekonja DM, Zarmbinski B, Johnson JR. Preoperative urine culture at a veterans affairs medical center. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(1):71-72.

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