Author(s): Ho RC, Ho EC, Mak A
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Abstract i.v. buprenorphine hydrochloride (Subutex) misuse has been creating a number of medical complications, and cutaneous manifestations such as soft tissue infection are one of the commonest consequences. Between January 2004 and December 2006, amongst 130 i.v. buprenorphine abusers who presented to the National University Hospital, Singapore, cutaneous complications were identified in 45 patients (prevalence, 31\%) with cellulitis and skin abscess being the commonest complications. Tissue and blood culture were positive in 19 (42\%) patients and Methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus was the commonest microbiological isolate (20\%). Univariate linear regression revealed significant relationships between body temperature (P = 0.03), heart rate (P = 0.02), respiratory rate (P < 0.001), total peripheral white cell count (P = 0.011), absolute neutrophil count (P < 0.001) and serum C-reactive protein (CRP) level (P < 0.001) on admission and through the duration of hospitalization. In multivariate analysis, respiratory rate on admission remained significantly associated with longer duration of hospitalization (P = 0.01). i.v. cloxacillin, i.v. crystallized penicillin and oral cloxacillin were the most commonly prescribed antibiotics while 11 (24\%) patients required surgical treatment. The mean duration of hospitalization was 8 +/- 11 days and repeated cutaneous complications occurred in eight (18\%) patients. In conclusion, cutaneous complications are common among i.v. buprenorphine users. Respiratory rates on admission predict duration of hospital stay. A high index of suspicion coupled with a correct choice of antibiotics based on local bacteriological surveillance is necessary in an attempt to reduce cutaneous complications and length of hospitalization.
This article was published in J Dermatol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Case Reports