Risk factors for spinal surgical site infection

Kelley M Boston, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. Surgical site infections (SSI) are one of the most common nosocomial infections in the United States. This study was conducted following an increase in the rate of SSI following spinal procedures at the study hospital. Methods. This study examined patient and hospital associated risk factors for SSI using existing data on patients who had spinal surgery performed at the study hospital between December 2003 and August 2005. There were 59 patients with SSI identified as cases; controls were randomly selected from patients who had spinal procedures performed at the study hospital during the study period, but did not develop infection. Of the 245 original records reviewed, 5% were missing more than half the variables and were eliminated from the data set. A total of 234 patients were included in the final analysis, representing 55 cases and 179 controls. Multivariable analysis was conducted using logistic regression to control for confounding variables. Results. Three variables were found to be significant risk factors for SSI in the study population: presence of comorbidities (odds ratio 3.15, 95% confidence interval 1.20 to 8.26), cut time above the population median of 100 minutes (odds ratio 2.98, 95% confidence interval 1.12 to 5.49), and use of iodine only for preoperative skin antisepsis (odds ratio 0.16, 95% confidence interval 0.06 to 0.45). Several risk factors of specific concern to the study hospital, such as operating room, hospital staff involved in the procedures and workers' compensation status, were not shown to be statistically significant. In addition, multiple factors that have been identified in prior studies, such as method of hair removal, smoking status, or incontinence, were not shown to be statistically significant in this population. Conclusions. This study confirms that increased cut time is a risk for post-operative infection. Use of iodine only was found to decrease risk of infection; further study is recommended in a population with higher usage of chlorhexadine gluconate. Presence of comorbidities at the time of surgery was also found to be a risk factor for infection; however, specific comorbidities were not studied.

Subject Area

Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Boston, Kelley M, "Risk factors for spinal surgical site infection" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1447205.