Risk factors for surgical site infections following spinal column trauma in an Australian trauma hospital

Louay Baroun-Agob, Susan Liew, Belinda Gabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: There is limited, and often conflicting, data in the literature about the prevalence and risk factors for surgical site infections (SSI) in spine surgery patients, with the majority consisting of elective spine surgery cohorts. Furthermore, there is no reported Australian data regarding rates of SSI in a spinal trauma cohort. The aim of this study is to identify factors associated with SSI following spinal column trauma. Methods: Adult (16+ years) patients that underwent surgery following emergency admission for spinal trauma between January 2010 and December 2016 at a major trauma centre in Melbourne, Australia, were identified through the Victorian Orthopaedic Trauma Outcomes Registry. The presence of an SSI was confirmed from the electronic medical record. Patient and clinical factors were analysed by SSI status. Generalized Estimating Equations were used to model predictors of SSI, with a P-value <0.05 deemed significant. Results: Data for 458 patients and 520 surgical wounds were collected. Twenty-six (5.7%) patients developed an SSI. Staphylococcus aureus was the most common microorganism with methicillin-sensitive S. aureus found in 46% of SSI cases. A posterior surgical approach and same site reoperation were predictors of SSI with adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) of 4.26 (1.22–14.80, P = 0.02) and 4.99 (1.10–22.58, P = 0.04), respectively. Conclusions: A posterior surgical approach and same site reoperation increased the risk of SSI after spinal trauma. Further research into modifiable associations within these and other factors will help mitigate the risk of SSI and hence decrease the personal and financial costs of this potentially devastating complication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-646
Number of pages8
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • orthopaedic surgery
  • risk factor
  • spine
  • surgical wound infection
  • trauma

Cite this