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For some, surgical site infections are in the genes
Date:2/26/2013

(SALT LAKE CITY)An estimated 300,000 U.S. patients get surgical site infections every year, and while the causes are varied, a new University of Utah study suggests that some who get an infection can blame it partly on their genes.

In the Feb. 19, 2013, online edition of the journal Wound Repair and Regeneration, researchers from the University's School of Medicine show through a study of families in the Utah Population Database (UPD) that surgical site infections (SSI) appear to have a significant genetic connection, even in extended relatives. If further investigation bears out these findings, people who are genetically at risk for SSIs might be identified through personal genome analysis before surgery, according to Harriet W. Hopf, M.D., professor of anesthesiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine who is corresponding author on the study.

"Our research showed that people with surgical site infections are more likely to be related to one another than expected in the Utah population" Hopf says. "If that's the case, individual genome analysis might benefit many people if SSIs appear to run in their families. This type of personalized health care could be available in a few years, and with the unparalleled resource of the Utah Population Database (UPDB) and its world-class genetics research, the University of Utah is positioned to make it happen."

It's estimated that SSIs occur in approximately 5 percent of U.S. surgical procedures, resulting in longer hospitalizations and adding approximately $1 billion a year to the nation's health care bill. Infections can occur on the outer layer of skin at the surgical site or in deeper tissue below the skin.

Hopf, who's also associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Medicine, conducted the research with Lisa A. Cannon-Albright, Ph.D., a genetic epidemiologist, professor of internal medicine and senior author on the study, and former U of U medical stu
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Contact: Phil Sahm
phil.sahm@hsc.utah.edu
801-581-2517
University of Utah Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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