Postoperative Surgical Site Infection After Spine Surgery: An Update From the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) Morbidity and Mortality Database*

Jamal N. Shillingford, Joseph L. Laratta, Hemant Reddy, Alex Ha, Ronald A. Lehman, Lawrence G. Lenke, Charla R. Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Study Design: Retrospective review of prospectively collected data. Objective: Analyze the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) Morbidity & Mortality (M&M) database to assess the incidence and characteristics related to postoperative surgical site infection (SSI) after spinal deformity surgery. Summary of Background Data: Infections involving spinal instrumentation are associated with greater rates of disability. Rates of postoperative SSI after spinal deformity surgery range from 1.9% to 4.4%. Postoperative SSI rates of 4.2% for adult kyphosis, 2.1% for adult spondylolisthesis, and 3.7% for adult scoliosis have been reported. Methods: The SRS M&M database was evaluated to define patient demographics, perioperative factors, and infection characteristics of spinal deformity patients with postoperative spine infections after deformity surgery in 2012. Results: Of the 47,755 procedures reported to the SRS in 2012, there were 578 (1.2%) diagnosed SSIs. Infection rates for patients with kyphosis were significantly higher compared with patients with scoliosis (2.4% vs. 1.1%, p <.0001) or spondylolisthesis (2.4% vs. 1.1%, p <.0001). Spinal fusions were performed in 86.3% of patients, 75.1% of which were performed posteriorly. Osteotomies were performed in 30.1% of patients. Deep infections below the fascia accounted for 68.0% of infections. Methicillin-sensitive (41.9%) and methicillin-resistant (17.0%) Staphylococcus aureus were the most commonly isolated pathogens, whereas gram-negative bacteria accounted for 25.4% of cases. Long-term antibiotic suppression was required in 18.9% of patients, and overall complications from antibiotics occurred in 4.5% of patients. Operative treatment was required in 81.8% of SSI cases. Conclusion: SSIs occur in 1.2% of spine deformity patients, with a rate significantly higher in patients with kyphosis. Approximately 25% of these infections are secondary to gram-negative species. Antibiotic complications occur in 4.5% of patients being treated for SSI. Despite advancements in surgical technique and infection prophylaxis, postoperative SSI remains one of the most common complications in spinal deformity surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)634-643
Number of pages10
JournalSpine deformity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Deformity
  • Kyphosis
  • Scoliosis Research Society
  • Spine
  • Surgical site infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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