Risk factors for spinal surgical-site infections in a community hospital: A case-control study

Anucha Apisarnthanarak, Marilyn Jones, Brian M. Waterman, Cathy M. Carroll, Robert Bernardi, Victoria J. Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To characterize risk factors for surgical-site infection after spinal surgery. DESIGN: A case-control study SETTING: A 113-bed community hospital. METHO: From January 1998 through June 2000, the incidence of surgical-site infection in patients undergoing laminectomy, spinal fusion surgery, or both increased at community hospital A. We compared 13 patients who acquired surgical-site infections after laminectomy, spinal fusion surgery, or both with 47 patients who were operated on during the same time period but did not acquire a surgical-site infection. Information collected included demographics, risk factors, personnel involved in the operations, length of hospital stay, and hospital costs. RESULTS: Of 13 case-patients, 9 (69%) were obese, 9 (69%) had spinal compression, 5 (38.5%) had a history of tobacco use, and 4 (31%) had diabetes. Oxacillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (6 of 13; 46%) was the most common organism isolated. Significant risk factors for postoperative spinal surgical-site infection were dural tear during the surgical procedure and the use of glue to cement the dural patch (3 of 13 [23%] vs 1 of 47 [2.1%]; P = . 02) and American Society of Anesthesiologists risk class of 3 or more (6 of 13 [46.2%] vs 7 of 47 [15%]; P = .02). Case-patients were more likely to have prolonged length of stay (median, 16 vs 4 days; P < .001). The average excess length of stay was 11 days and the excess cost per case was $12,477. CONCLUSION: Dural tear and the use of glue should be evaluated as potential risk factors for spinal surgical-site infection. Systematic observation for potential lapses in sterile technique and surgical processes that may increase the risk of infection may help prevent spinal surgical-site infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalInfection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


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