Objective: To determine the incidence and risk factors of surgical site infections (SSIs) after craniotomy and to test the risk index score proposed by the National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance (NNIS) system, which, to our knowledge, has not been validated in neurosurgery to date.
Methods: During a 15-month period, every adult patient undergoing craniotomy in 10 neurosurgical units was prospectively evaluated for development and risk factors of SSI. The follow-up period was at least 30 days. SSIs were defined according to the Center for Disease Control definitions. Incidence was calculated per patient. Multivariate analyses were conducted at first to include all significant risk factors of univariate analysis and then only those known preoperatively. Finally, the NNIS risk index was tested in this population.
Results: Of a total of 2944 patients, 117 patients (4%) with SSIs were observed, including 30 with wound infections, 14 with bone flap osteitis, 56 with meningitis, and 17 with brain abscesses. Independent risk factors for SSIs were postoperative cerebrospinal fluid leakage (odds ratio, 145; 95% confidence interval, 72-293) and subsequent operation (odds ratio, 7; 95% confidence interval, 4-12). Independent predictive risk factors were emergency surgery, clean-contaminated and dirty surgery, an operative time longer than 4 hours, and recent neurosurgery. Absence of antibiotic prophylaxis was not a risk factor. The NNIS risk index was effective in identifying at-risk patients.
Conclusion: Independent risk factors for SSIs after craniotomy involve postoperative events. However, the NNIS risk index is effective in identifying at-risk patients.