Preoperative MRSA Screening in Pediatric Spine Surgery: A Helpful Tool or a Waste of Time and Money?

Scott J. Luhmann, June C. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives To review the use of preoperative screening for Staphylococcus aureus for all pediatric spine procedures that was instituted at our facility in a multimodal approach to decrease the frequency of postoperative wound infections. Summary of Background Data Four years ago at our facility, a multimodal approach to decrease the frequency of postoperative infections after pediatric spine surgery was instituted. Methods A single-center, single-surgeon pediatric spine surgery database was queried to identify all patients who had preoperative S. aureus nasal swab screening. Data collected included demographic data, diagnoses, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) swab findings, bacterial antibiotic sensitivities, and outcome of the spine surgery. Results A total of 339 MRSA screenings were performed. Twenty (5.9%) were MRSA positive, and 55 (16.2%) were methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) positive. In the MRSA-positive group, 13 were neuromuscular, 5 were adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), 1 congenital, and 1 infantile idiopathic scoliosis. Of the MRSA-positive screenings, 13 (65.0% of MRSA-positive screenings; 3.8% of entire cohort) of were newly identified cases (9 neuromuscular, 3 AIS, and 1 congenital diagnoses). In the 55 MSSA-positive, 6 documented resistance to either cefazolin or clindamycin. Hence, in up to 22 of the preoperative screenings (6.5% of entire cohort; 16 MRSA and 6 MSSA showed antibiotic resistance), the preoperative antibiotic regimen could be altered to appropriately cover the identified bacterial resistances. During the study period, there were 11 patients who were diagnosed with a postoperative deep wound infection, none of them having positive screenings. Conclusion The use of preoperative nasal swab MRSA screening permitted adjustment of the preoperative antibiotic regimen in up to 6.5% of patients undergoing pediatric spine surgery. This inexpensive, noninvasive tool can be used in preoperative surgical planning for all patients undergoing spinal procedures. Level of Evidence Level IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-276
Number of pages5
JournalSpine deformity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • AIS
  • MRSA
  • Nasal culture
  • Preoperative screening
  • Spine surgery


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