[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 15-Jun-2010
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Contact: Jessica Studeny
jessica.studeny@case.edu
216-368-4692
Case Western Reserve University

Major JAMA study examines cystic fibrosis survival rates and MRSA infections

A team of researchers led by Elliott Dasenbrook, MD, MHS, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Associate Director of the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program at University Hospitals Case Medical Center's Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital today published the findings from a major study about cystic fibrosis (CF) survival rates in the June 16 issue of JAMA.

Specifically, the study observed patients with CF who had Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) detected in their respiratory tract. Results show these patients have worse survival, approximately 1.3 times greater risk of death, compared to CF patients without MRSA. Dr. Dasenbrook's team, including co-author Michael Konstan, MD, Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at University Hospitals Case Medical Center's Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, studied more than 19,000 patients with CF to reach their conclusions.

The most common cause of death in CF is respiratory failure secondary to pulmonary infection. The prevalence of MRSA in the respiratory tract of individuals with CF has increased substantially in the past five years, and is now more than 20 percent (higher in urban areas) according to the article.

"Our study findings may prompt many doctors to reconsider how they care for CF patients," says Dr. Dasenbrook. He adds, "Until now, some doctors weren't aggressively treating patients with MRSA. Doctors often viewed MRSA to not be as important as other respiratory-tract infections. With our study findings, treatment patterns may change as the risk of death is 1.3 times greater for CF patients with MRSA."

Dr. Konstan elaborates, "Identifying a specific risk factor like MRSA for shortened survival for a disease like CF provides a target for future research and clinical intervention."

The study included 19,833 CF patients (ages 6 to 45 years) who were tracked in the United States' Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry between January 1996 and December 2006, with follow-up until December 2008. Various analytic models were used to compare survival between CF patients with and without respiratory tract MRSA.

During the study period, 2,537 patients died and 5,759 individuals had respiratory tract MRSA detected. The mortality rate was 18.3 deaths per 1,000 patient-years for patients without MRSA and 27.7 deaths per 1,000 patient-years for those with MRSA. After adjustment for various factors associated with severity of illness, the risk of death was approximately 1.3 times greater for CF patients when MRSA was detected compared with when MRSA was not detected.

The results of this study, in conjunc¬tion with previous data, further estab¬lish MRSA as a significant CF pathogen and provide impetus for more aggressive treatment of CF patients who are persistently MRSA positive. Ide¬ally this treatment will be conducted in the context of clinical trials, because op¬timal therapeutic approaches for MRSA, both persistent and new, are not yet known.

"The findings from our study will drive how treatment of MRSA will be conducted in the future. Optimal approaches now are not yet known and we are currently designing a trial to eradicate MRSA from CF patients with the ultimate goal of prolonging their life," Dr. Dasenbrook says.

The study results also rein¬force the importance of following cur¬rent CF infection control guidelines to minimize transmission of MRSA, par¬ticularly in outpatient clinics with high CF patient volume.

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About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Eleven Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the school.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students and ranks in the top 20 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News &World Report "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine's primary affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002. http://casemed.case.edu.

About University Hospitals

University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of hospitals, outpatient centers and primary care physicians. At the core of our health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation and the world, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics and spine, radiology and radiation oncology, neurosurgery and neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, organ transplantation and human genetics. Its main campus includes the internationally celebrated UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked second in the nation for the care of critically ill newborns; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Ireland Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more information, go to www.uhhospitals.org



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