Effect of a five-day, intranasal decolonisation treatment on Staphylococcus aureus surgical site infection rates for cardiothoracic open-heart surgery patients

Activity: Supervision/Examination/MentoringInternal HDR Supervision


In the hospital setting, all patients undergoing any form of invasive surgery are at risk of developing a surgical site infection, most often caused by a common skin bacterium known as Staphylococcus aureus (Sa). Sa is colonised in the nose of many individuals, therefore considered easily transmissible, as it spreads most commonly from person to person via direct contact.

As of 2020, and in accordance with current clinical guideline recommendations, the Cardiac Centre of Townsville University Hospital has implemented a Staphylococcus aureus surgical site infection preventative strategy for all patients undergoing cardiothoracic open-heart surgery. Known as a Sa decolonisation ‘bundle’, the interventions include peri-operative patient treatment, involving a five-day, twice a day, administration of an intranasal topical anti-bacterial ointment up each nostril and two pre-operative surgical scrub showers. Post-operatively, all surgical incision sites are covered with a special wound dressing, designed to stay on for seven to ten days.

The efficacy of this newly implemented surgical site infection strategy has not yet been studied. Using retrospective medical records from two data periods pertaining to pre (between September- November 2019) and post (September-November 2020 ) implementation of the Sa decolonisation infection preventative strategy, this study will review and compare rates of identified surgical site infections caused by Sa, in order to ascertain the effect the intranasal Sa decolonisation treatment has on subsequent Sa surgical site infection (SSI) rates for cardiothoracic open-heart surgery patients post-operatively.
Period30 Jun 202131 Mar 2022
ExamineeEmma Williscroft
Examination held at
  • The Cardiac Centre, Townsville Hospital and Health Service


  • cardiothoracic surgery
  • surgical site infection
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • intranasal decolonisation