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J Clin Neurosci. 2018 Jun;52:5-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2018.03.023. Epub 2018 Mar 30.

Prophylaxis of surgical site infection in adult spine surgery: A systematic review.

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Division of Spine Surgery, Dept. of Orthopaedics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Dept. of Neurosurgery, The Alfred, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; National Trauma Research Institute Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Division of Spine Surgery, Dept. of Orthopaedics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Electronic address:



Surgical site infection (SSI) remains a significant source of morbidity in spine surgery, with reported rates varying from 0.7 to 16%.


To systematically review and evaluate the evidence for strategies for prophylaxis of SSI in adult spine surgery in the last twenty years.


Two independent systematic searches were conducted, at two international spine centers, encompassing PubMed,, Cochrane Database, EBSCO Medline, ScienceDirect, Ovid Medline, EMBASE (Ovid), and MEDLINE. References were combined and screened, then distilled to 69 independent studies for final review.


11 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), 51 case-controlled studies (CCS), and 7 case series were identified. Wide variation exists in surgical indications, approaches, procedures, and even definitions of SSI. Intra-wound vancomycin powder was the most widely studied intervention (19 studies, 1 RCT). Multiple studies examined perioperative antibiotic protocols, closed-suction drainage, povidone-iodine solution irrigation, and 2-octyl-cyanoacrylate skin closure. 18 interventions were examined by a single study only. There is limited evidence for the efficacy of intra-wound vancomycin. There is strong evidence that closed-suction drainage does not affect SSI rates, while there is moderate evidence for the efficacy of povidone-iodine irrigation and that single-dose preoperative antibiotics is as effective as multiple doses. Few conclusions can be drawn about other interventions given the paucity and poor quality of studies.


While a small body of evidence underscores a select few interventions for SSI prophylaxis in adult spine surgery, most proposed measures have not been investigated beyond a single study. Further high level evidence is required to justify SSI preventative treatments.


Adult spine surgery; Infection prophylaxis; Surgical site infection; Systematic review

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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