When should hospitalization of a patient with cellulitis be considered?

Updated: Jun 14, 2019
  • Author: Thomas E Herchline, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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The IDSA also recommends considering inpatient admission in the presence of hypotension and/or the following laboratory findings: an elevated creatinine level; an elevated creatine phosphokinase level (2-3 times the upper limit of normal [ULN]); a CRP level >13 mg/L (123.8 mmol/L); a low serum bicarbonate level; or a marked left shift on the CBC with differential. [2]

If a complicated or deep infection is suspected, imaging studies and/or surgical consultations should be done promptly. [2]

Jenkins et al also developed guidelines for the management of patients who require hospitalization for cellulitis or cutaneous abscess (see the following image). The guidelines were shown to decrease the use of resources without an adverse effect on clinical outcomes. [65]

Guidelines for the management of patients who requ Guidelines for the management of patients who require hospitalization for cellulitis or cutaneous abscess. AFB = acid-fast bacilli; BID = twice daily; CRP = C reactive protein; CT = computed tomography scanning; DS = double strength; DM = diabetes mellitus; ESR = erythrocyte sedimentation rate; ESRD = end-stage renal disease; HIV = human immunodeficiency virus; ICU = intensive care unit; I&D = incision and drainage; ID = infectious disease; IDU = injection drug user; IV = intravenous; LRINEC = Laboratory Risk Indicator for Necrotizing Fasciitis; MRI = magnetic resonance imaging; MSRA = methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; NSAIDS = nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; PO = by mouth; SSTI = skin and soft-tissue infections; TID = 3 times daily. Adapted from Jenkins TC, Knepper BC, Sabel AL, et al. Decreased antibiotic utilization after implementation of a guideline for inpatient cellulitis and cutaneous abscess. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(12):1072-9.

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