Surgeon practices regarding infection prevention for growth friendly spinal procedures

J Child Orthop. 2014 May;8(3):245-50. doi: 10.1007/s11832-014-0584-1. Epub 2014 Apr 18.


Purpose: The rate of infection in patients having growth sparing surgery for early onset scoliosis has been reported up to 25 % during the course of treatment. A recent study demonstrated significant variability in the approach to infection prevention in adolescent and neuromuscular scoliosis. The purpose of this study is to conduct a similar survey in order to understand approaches used by experienced pediatric spinal surgeons with regard to infection prevention in growth friendly spinal procedures.

Materials and methods: After preliminary internal testing of a survey by the authors, a final 21-question survey was created and approved by the authors and electronically distributed to all members of the Chest Wall Spinal Deformity Study Group and the Growing Spine Study Group (n = 57). A total of 40 responses were obtained (70 %).

Results: Significant variability in practice was demonstrated across the majority of the questions answered. Several of the questions demonstrated relative equipoise between practices, including preoperative MRSA screening, preoperative chlorhexidine baths, postoperative antibiotic duration after insertion, use of topical antibiotics, use of drains, use of IV gram negative coverage or vancomycin, and skin preparation.

Conclusion: Other studies have demonstrated that variability in practice may have a negative impact on clinical outcomes, so one could postulate that steps that can reduce variability in the current population may help improve outcomes in this population. Areas of clinical equipoise can be used to help design and direct multicenter studies with an ultimate goal of reducing infections in this population.

Level of evidence: Level V.