Prevention of spinal fusion post-operative wound infections in pediatric patients with scoliosis: a quality improvement initiative

Elizabeth Partridge, Dean Blumberg, Rolando F. Roberto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Post-operative wound infections increase patient morbidity and mortality as well as the length of hospital stay, with a profound personal and institutional cost. The aim of this study was to decrease post-operative infections through development of a surgical antibiotic prophylaxis policy based on institution-specific risk factors and microbiology data. Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of deep wound infections at our institution over a 5-year period (2014–2018). 399 spinal fusion procedures were performed with a 2.5% post-operative infection rate. Patients with neuromuscular scoliosis were six times more likely to develop deep wound infections (7.6%) compared to patients with congenital and idiopathic scoliosis (combined rate of 1.25%). The microbiology data revealed that polymicrobial, extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) gram negative organisms predominated in patients with neuromuscular scoliosis. Based on these findings, we implemented an evidence-based quality improvement intervention: all patients with neuromuscular scoliosis undergoing spinal fusion were given a single 15 mg/kg dose of amikacin, in addition to our standard practice of perioperative cefazolin plus vancomycin with intra-operative betadine wash and vancomycin powder application. This intervention was put into practice in January 2019. Results: Since the implementation of our quality improvement initiative, the overall post-operative infection rate decreased to 1.1% (2 infections in 176 cases). Ninety-eight percent of the 43 neuromuscular scoliosis patients who underwent spinal fusion in the post-intervention time frame have remained infection free. Conclusion: Examination of post-operative infection and microbiology data at the institution level can guide the development of institution specific, evidence-based quality improvement initiatives that reduce post-operative wound infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSpine deformity
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Neuromuscular scoliosis
  • Post-operative wound infections
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal fusion
  • Surgical prophylaxis
  • Surgical site infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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