Local contamination is a major cause of early deep wound infections following open posterior lumbosacral fusions.



Postoperative surgical site infection in patients treated with lumbosacral fusion has usually been thought to be caused by perioperative contamination. With the proximity of these incisions to the perineum, this study sought to determine if contamination by gastrointestinal and/or urogenital flora should be considered as a major cause of this complication.


We conducted a retrospective review of adults treated with open posterior lumbosacral fusions between 2014 and 2021 to identify common factors in deep postoperative infection and the nature of the infecting organisms. Cases of tumor, primary infection and minimally invasive surgery were excluded.


489 eligible patients were identified, 20 of which required debridement deep to the fascia (4.1%). Mean age, operative time, estimated blood loss and levels fused were similar between both groups. The infected group had a significantly higher BMI. The mean time from primary procedure to debridement was 40.8 days. Four patients showed no growth, 3 showed Staphylococcus sp. infection (Perioperative Inside-Out) requiring debridement at 63.5 days. Thirteen showed infection with intestinal or urogenital pathogens (Postoperative Outside-In) requiring debridement at 20.0 days. Postoperative Outside-In infections led to debridement 80.3 days earlier than Perioperative Inside-Out infections (p = 0.007).


65% of deep infections in patients undergoing open lumbosacral fusion were due to early contamination by pathogens associated with the gastrointestinal and/or urogenital tracts. These required earlier debridement than Staphylococcus sp.


There should be renewed focus on keeping these pathogens away from the incision during the early stages of wound healing.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Rocos, Brett, Bela Davidson, Lily Rabinovitch, Y Raja Rampersaud, Christopher Nielsen, Fan Jiang, Alon Vaisman, Stephen J Lewis, et al. (2023). Local contamination is a major cause of early deep wound infections following open posterior lumbosacral fusions. Spine deformity, 11(5). pp. 1209–1221. 10.1007/s43390-023-00694-x Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/29683.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Brett Rocos

Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I joined the team at Duke University Health from London, UK, where I was a Consultant Adult and Paediatric Spine Surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust and Honorary Consultant Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. I completed my surgical training in in the South West of the UK and at the University of Toronto, and am fellowship trained in adult spine surgery, paediatric spine surgery, orthopaedic trauma surgery, research and healthcare management.

I am driven to support patients at every stage of their care, from clinic assessment, through surgery to discharge. Making sure that every person, adult, child, family or friend understands what’s wrong, helping them to choose the right treatment for them, and what the recovery will be like is an important priority.

My research activity focusses on finding effective new treatments for spinal disorders and bringing them to patients. Focusing on spinal deformity, I have led investigations in the UK, Canada and the USA, and I sit on the Global AO Knowledge Forum for Deformity and the Research Grants Committee at the Scoliosis Research Society. I have lectured in North America and Europe about the treatment of spine disorders for the Scoliosis Research Society, Global Spine Congress, AO Spine and Eurospine, and I have worked hard to produce research that improves the care for spine patients wherever they live. Lastly, I review for several orthopaedic journals and I am Deputy Editor of the Bone and Joint 360, a leading publication with a global readership.

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