Prevention of Surgical Site Infections in Spine Surgery: An International Survey of Clinical Practices Among Expert Spine Surgeons.


Study design

Questionnaire-based survey.


Surgical site infection (SSI) is a common complication in spine surgery but universal guidelines for SSI prevention are lacking. The objectives of this study are to depict a global status quo on implemented prevention strategies in spine surgery, common themes of practice and determine key areas for future research.


An 80-item survey was distributed among spine surgeons worldwide via email. The questionnaire was designed and approved by an International Consensus Group on spine SSI. Consensus was defined as more than 60% of participants agreeing to a specific prevention strategy.


Four hundred seventy-two surgeons participated in the survey. Screening for Staphylococcus aureus (SA) is not common, whereas preoperative decolonization is performed in almost half of all hospitals. Body mass index (BMI) was not important for surgery planning. In contrast, elevated HbA1c level and hypoalbuminemia were often considered as reasons to postpone surgery. Cefazoline is the common drug for antimicrobial prophylaxis. Alcohol-based chlorhexidine is mainly used for skin disinfection. Double-gloving, wound irrigation, and tissue-conserving surgical techniques are routine in the operating room (OR). Local antibiotic administration is not common. Wound closure techniques and postoperative wound dressing routines vary greatly between the participating institutions.


With this study we provide an international overview on the heterogeneity of SSI prevention strategies in spine surgery. We demonstrated a large heterogeneity for pre-, peri- and postoperative measures to prevent SSI. Our data illustrated the need for developing universal guidelines and for testing areas of controversy in prospective clinical trials.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Tkatschenko, Dimitri, Sonja Hansen, Julia Koch, Christopher Ames, Michael G Fehlings, Sigurd Berven, Lali Sekhon, Christopher Shaffrey, et al. (2022). Prevention of Surgical Site Infections in Spine Surgery: An International Survey of Clinical Practices Among Expert Spine Surgeons. Global spine journal. p. 21925682211068414. 10.1177/21925682211068414 Retrieved from

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Christopher Ignatius Shaffrey

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I have more than 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages with spinal disorders. I have had an interest in the management of spinal disorders since starting my medical education. I performed residencies in both orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of spinal disorders. My goal has been to find innovative ways to manage the range of spinal conditions, straightforward to complex. I have a focus on managing patients with complex spinal disorders. My patient evaluation and management philosophy is to provide engaged, compassionate care that focuses on providing the simplest and least aggressive treatment option for a particular condition. In many cases, non-operative treatment options exist to improve a patient’s symptoms. I have been actively engaged in clinical research to find the best ways to manage spinal disorders in order to achieve better results with fewer complications.

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