An evidence-based clinical guideline for antibiotic prophylaxis in spine surgery

Spine J. 2013 Oct;13(10):1387-92. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2013.06.030. Epub 2013 Aug 27.


Background context: The North American Spine Society's (NASS) Evidence-Based Clinical Guideline on Antibiotic Prophylaxis in Spine Surgery provides evidence-based recommendations to address key clinical questions regarding the efficacy and the appropriate antibiotic prophylaxis protocol to prevent surgical site infections in patients undergoing spine surgery. The guideline is intended to address these questions based on the highest quality clinical literature available on this subject as of June 2011.

Purpose: Provide an evidence-based educational tool to assist spine surgeons in preventing surgical site infections.

Study design: Systematic review and evidence-based clinical guideline.

Methods: This guideline is a product of the Antibiotic Prophylaxis in Spine Surgery Work Group of NASS Evidence-Based Guideline Development Committee. The work group consisted of neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons who specialize in spine surgery and are trained in the principles of evidence-based analysis. A literature search addressing each question and using a specific search protocol was performed on English language references found in MEDLINE (PubMed), ACP Journal Club, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE (Drugs and Pharmacology), and Web of Science to identify articles published since the search performed for the original guideline. The relevant literature was then independently rated using the NASS-adopted standardized levels of evidence. An evidentiary table was created for each of the questions. Final recommendations to answer each clinical question were developed via work group discussion, and grades were assigned to the recommendations using standardized grades of recommendation. In the absence of Levels I to IV evidence, work group consensus statements have been developed using a modified nominal group technique, and these statements are clearly identified as such in the guideline.

Results: Sixteen clinical questions were formulated and addressed, and the answers are summarized in this article. The respective recommendations were graded by the strength of the supporting literature, which was stratified by levels of evidence.

Conclusions: The clinical guideline for antibiotic prophylaxis in spine surgery has been created using the techniques of evidence-based medicine and best available evidence to aid practitioners in the care of patients undergoing spine surgery. The entire guideline document, including the evidentiary tables, suggestions for future research, and all the references, is available electronically on the NASS Web site at and will remain updated on a timely schedule.

Keywords: Antibiotic prophylaxis; Spine surgery; Surgical site infection.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis* / methods
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Orthopedic Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Spine / surgery*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents