Albumin and surgical site infection risk in orthopaedics: a meta-analysis

BMC Surg. 2017 Jan 16;17(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s12893-016-0186-6.


Backgroud: Surigical site infection has been a challenge for surgeons for many years, the prevalence of serum albumin <3.5g/dL has been reported to be associated with increased orthopaedic complications. However, the prognostic implications and significance of serum albumin <3.5g/dL after orthopaedic surgeries remain ambiguity. In this study, we performed a meta-analysis to access the predictive value of serum albumin level on SSI.

Methods: A basic data search was performed in PubMed and Web of Science, in addition, references were manually searched. All of the observational studies contained preoperative albumin, outcomes of SSI or valuable data that could be abstracted and analysed for meta-analysis in orthopaedics. All of the studies were assessed using the classic Newcastle Ottawa Scale (NOS). They conformed to critical quality evaluation standards, and the final data analysis was performed with RevMan 5.2 software.

Results: A total of 112,183 patients included in 13 studies were involved. The pooled MD of albumin between the infection group and the non-infection group was MD = -2.28 (95 % CI -3.97-0.58), which was statistically significant (z = 2.63, P = 0.008). The pooled RR of infection when comparing albumin <3.5 with albumin >3.5 was 2.39 (95 % CI 1.57 3.64), which was statistically significant (z = 4.06, P < 0.0001). Heterogeneity were found in the pooled MD of albumin and in the pooled RR for infection (P = 0.05, I2 = 61 % and P = 0.003, I2 = 68 %). No publication bias occurred based on two basically symmetrical funnel plots.

Conclusion: Our meta-analysis demonstrated that an albumin level <3.5 g/dL had an almost 2.5 fold increased risk of SSI in orthopaedics, although this conclusion requires well-designed prospective cohort studies to be confirmed further.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Orthopedic Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Serum Albumin / analysis*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / blood*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology


  • Serum Albumin