1. Huneycutt, Tamatha M. DNP, APRN, NNP-BC
  2. Carlson, Cheryl PhD, APRN, NNP-BC
  3. Newberry, Desi M. DNP, APRN, NNP-BC


Background: Methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) occurs more frequently in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) than methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and can result in comparable morbidity and mortality in the neonatal population. MSSA infection may present as pustulosis or cellulitis and evolve into bacteremia, pneumonia, endocarditis, brain abscesses, and osteomyelitis. There is a paucity of literature regarding the treatment and long-term outcomes in the premature infant.


Clinical Findings: A 32-week twin developed MSSA sepsis with presentation of pain, decreased movement of upper extremities, and global hypotonia. Blood cultures remained positive despite antibiotic coverage.


Primary Diagnosis: The infant was admitted to the level IV NICU with the diagnosis of MSSA bacteremia, with concern for dissemination and osteomyelitis.


Interventions: Diagnostic studies included laboratory testing for sepsis evaluation, radiologic studies to evaluate for dissemination, immunologic testing to rule out complement deficiency, and hematology testing to rule out hypercoagulable conditions.


Outcomes: Diagnostic testing showed extensive cellulitis, osteomyelitis, multiple liver abscesses, and epidural abscesses suggestive of spinal epidural abscess (SEA). Abscess debridement and irrigation on the left distal femur, left elbow, and right tibia were performed. The infant completed 8 weeks of IV antibiotic therapy. Immunologic and hematology testing was within normal limits.


Practice Recommendations: Prompt recognition and follow-up for clinical signs of sepsis are vital when caring for premature infants. Inclusion of pediatric subspecialist recommendations to assure all diagnostic studies and treatments are completed can significantly impact the patient's outcome. Long-term follow-up is needed for premature infants with the diagnosis of SEA.