Incidence and risk factors for infection in spine surgery: A prospective multicenter study of 1764 instrumented spinal procedures

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Surgical site infection (SSI) is a common complication in spinal surgery, imposing a high burden on patients and society. However, information about its characteristics and related risk factors is limited. We designed this prospective, multicenter study to address this issue.


: From January 2015 through February 2016, a total of 1764 patients who had spinal trauma or degenerative spinal diseases were treated with instrumented surgeries and followed up for 1 year with complete data. Data on all patients were abstracted from electronic medical records, and SSIs were prospectively inspected and diagnosed by surgeons in our department. Any disagreement among them was settled by the leader of this study. SPSS 19.0 was used to perform the analyses.


A total of 58 patients (3.3%, 58 of 1764) developed SSI; 1.1% had deep SSI, and 2.2% had superficial SSI. Of these, 60.6% (21 of 33) had a polymicrobial cause. Most of them (51 of 58) occurred during hospitalization. The median occurrence time was 3 days after operation (range: 1–123 days). SSI significantly prolonged hospital stays, by 9.3 days on average. The univariate analysis revealed reason for surgery as the only significant risk factor. The multivariate analysis, however, revealed 8 significant risk factors, including higher BMI, surgical site (cervical), surgical approach (posterior), surgery performed in summer, reasons for surgery (degenerative disease), autograft for fusion and fixation, and higher preoperative platelet level.


Identification of these risk factors aids in stratifying preoperative risk to reduce SSI incidence. In addition, the results could be used in counseling patients and their families during the consent process.

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