Epidemiology of deep surgical site infections after pediatric spinal fusion surgery

Stephen J. Warner, Tyler J. Uppstrom, Andy O. Miller, Sean T. O'Brien, Christine M. Salvatore, Roger F. Widmann, Stephanie L. Perlman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Study Design. Single-institution, retrospective case series. Objective. To determine whether the microbiology of deep surgical site infections (SSIs) after spinal fusion surgery for deformity has changed over the last decade at our institution. Summary of Background Data. SSI after pediatric spinal deformity surgery results in significantly increased patient morbidity and health care costs. Although risk factors are multifactorial, prophylactic and treatment antibiotic coverage is based in part on historical epidemiologic data, which may evolve over time. Methods. This study represents a retrospective review of clinical and microbiology records of patients less than 21 years old who underwent spinal deformity surgery at a single institution between 2000 and 2012. Patients were included who underwent index surgery at our institution and developed a deep SSI. Patients with growth-preserving spine constructs were excluded. Results. The overall incidence of deep SSI was 3.6% (39/1094). The incidence of deep SSI following primary surgery was 3.3% (34/1034) and 8.3% (5/60) following revision surgery. The incidence of deep SSI varied by primary diagnosis: idiopathic (1.0%), neuromuscular (14.3%), syndromic (5.3%), congenital (5.7%), and kyphosis (0.0%). The most common inciting pathogens were Staphylococcus epidermidis (26%), methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA, 18%), Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes; 18%), and Escherichia coli (18%). Sixteen of the 18 (89%) gram-negative infections occurred in neuromuscular patients (P=0.006). Between 2000 and 2006 and between 2007 and 2012, MSSA occurred in 2/18 (11%) and 5/21 (24%) of cases (P = 0.41), methicillin-resistant S. aureus occurred in 1/18 (6%) and 3/21 (14%) (P=0.61), and P. acnes occurred in 3/18 (17%) and 4/21 (19%) (P=1.0). Conclusion. The epidemiology of deep SSI following spinal fusion for deformity in pediatric patients at our institution has not changed significantly during 13 years. Prophylactic antibiotic coverage for both gram-positive and gram-negative organisms may be indicated for patients with primary neuromuscular diagnoses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E163-E168
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
  • Deformity
  • Epidemiology
  • Infections
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Microbiology
  • Pediatric
  • Scoliosis
  • Spine
  • Surgical site


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