Management of deep surgical site infections of the spine: a Canadian nationwide survey Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Deep surgical site infections after spinal instrumentation represent a significant source of patient morbidity and poorer outcomes. Given lack of evidence or guidelines on the variety of procedural options in the management of deep spine surgical site infections, the purpose of this survey was to document and investigate the use of these techniques across Canada. METHODS: A 34-question survey evaluating surgical techniques for irrigation and debridement in postoperative thoracolumbar infection was distributed to Canadian adult spine surgeons. Results were analyzed qualitatively, and comparisons by specialty, years of training, and number of cases were completed using Fischer's exact tests. We defined consensus as >70% agreement. RESULTS: We received 53 responses (62% response rate) from a comprehensive sample of Canadian adult spine surgeons. There was a consensus to retain hardware (80%) and interbody implants (93%) in acute infection, to retain interbody implants in chronic/recurrent infection (71%), and application of topical antibiotics in recurrent infection (85%). There was consensus on the use of absorbable suture to close fascia in acute (83%) and chronic (87%) infection. Eighty-five percent of surgeons used nonabsorbable materials such as Nylon or staples for skin closure in chronic infection, however, there was no consensus in acute infection. Surgeons varied significantly in type, volume and pressure of fluids, adjuvant solvents, graft management, use of topical antibiotics acutely, and the use of negative pressure wound therapy. Partial hardware exchange was controversial. Additionally, specialty or surgeon experience had no impact on management strategy. CONCLUSIONS: This survey demonstrates significant heterogeneity amongst Canadian adult spine surgeons regarding key steps in the surgical management of deep instrumented spine infection, concordant with scarce literature addressing these steps.


  • Sarraj, Mohamed
  • Alqahtani, Abdullah
  • Thornley, Patrick
  • Koziarz, Frank
  • Bailey, Christopher S
  • Freire-Archer, Millaray
  • Bhanot, Kunal
  • Kachur, Edward
  • Bhandari, Mohit
  • Oitment, Colby

publication date

  • December 2022