Surgical site infection in hand surgery

Int Orthop. 2015 Nov;39(11):2191-8. doi: 10.1007/s00264-015-2849-9. Epub 2015 Jul 9.


Purpose: As ambulatory surgery becomes increasingly common, there is growing interest in assessing, monitoring, and tracking complications that occur secondary to outpatient procedures. We sought to determine the rates of 14- and 30-day acute care visits for surgical site infection after outpatient hand surgery, and to identify associated factors.

Methods: Using the California State Ambulatory Surgery database for 2010 and 2011, we identified 44,305 patients undergoing common outpatient hand surgery procedures. Cases were linked to the State Emergency Department and the State Inpatient databases for postoperative acute care visits (e.g. hospitalizations, emergency department or ambulatory surgical visits) related to surgical site infection.

Results: Postoperative acute care visits for surgical site infection occurred in 1.7 per 1,000 hand surgery procedures (0.17 %) at 14 days, and 3.3 per 1,000 (0.33 %) at 30 days. Thirty-day infection rates were lowest after ganglion cyst (0.15 %) and deQuervain surgery (0.25 %), and highest following cubital tunnel release (0.56 %) and trapeziometacarpal arthroplasty (0.49 %). Fifty-three percent of postoperative visits were treated in the emergency department setting, 37 % in the inpatient setting, and 10 % required an additional outpatient surgical procedure. Patients with government-funded insurance-Medicaid in particular-and those residing in rural areas had higher odds of postoperative acute care visits for surgical site infection. Diabetes, obesity, and tobacco use were not associated with increased risk for infection leading to an acute care visit.

Conclusion: The rates of postoperative acute care visits for surgical site infection after ambulatory hand procedures are low but not negligible-particularly given how common hand surgery is, and the fact that many of these events entail hospitalizations or additional ambulatory procedures. Reasons for the increased risk of acute care visits for infection among publicly insured and rural patients merit additional research.

Keywords: Complication; Hand surgery; Patient safety; Quality improvement; Surgical site infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Hand / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology
  • Upper Extremity / surgery