Published online Nov 18, 2018. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v9.i11.271
Peer-review started: June 25, 2018
First decision: July 11, 2018
Revised: July 15, 2018
Accepted: August 26, 2018
Article in press: August 26, 2018
Published online: November 18, 2018
Surgical site infections (SSIs) are the most common hospital acquired infections. The rates of infection following spine surgery have been reported to range from less than 1% to 10.9%. Surgical site infection in spinal surgery is associated with significantly increased morbidity and costs.
In response to an increasing number of SSIs at the authors’ institution, a new ten step surgical protocol was initiated in an effort to reduce infection rates after an intensive epidemiological investigation failed to reveal a common source.
To define a ten-step protocol that reduced the incidence of surgical site infection in the spine surgery practice of the senior author and evaluate the support for each step based on current literature.
Ten-step protocol was implemented. (1) Preoperative glycemic management based on hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c); (2) skin site preoperative preparation with 2% chlorhexidine gluconate disposable cloths; (3) Limit operating room traffic; (4) cut the number of personnel in the room to the minimum required; (5) absolutely no flash sterilization of equipment; (6) double-gloving with frequent changing of outer gloves; (7) local application of vancomycin powder; (8) re-dosing antibiotic every 4 h for prolonged procedures and extending postoperative coverage to 72 h for high-risk patients; (9) irrigation of subcutaneous tissue with diluted povidone-iodine solution after deep fascial closure; and (10) use of DuraPrep skin preparation at the end of a case before skin closure. Through an extensive literature review, the current data available for each of the ten steps was evaluated.
Use of vancomycin powder in surgical wounds, routine irrigation of surgical site, and frequent changing of surgical gloves are strongly supported by the literature. Preoperative skin preparation with chlorhexidine wipes is similarly supported. The majority of current literature supports control of HbA1c preoperatively to reduce risk of infection. Limiting the use of flash sterilization is supported, but has not been evaluated in spine-specific surgery. Limiting OR traffic and number of personnel in the OR are supported although without level 1 evidence. Prolonged use of antibiotics postoperatively is not supported by the literature. Intraoperative use of DuraPrep prior to skin closure is not yet explored.
Several details surrounding surgery have been evaluated in the literature as both patient risk factors and prophylactic measures for decreasing rates of SSIs. The authors attempted to control for 10 factors and found support in the literature for the majority of the 10 steps taken. This protocol resulted in a significant reduction in SSIs in the senior author’s practice.
In the current era of pay per performance, there is a major drive in all hospitals to reduce postoperative infection to the minimum. A variety of measures have been initiated and evaluated in the literature to reduce the occurrence of SSIs. Postoperative surgical site infection will remain a matter of concern for patients, surgeons and healthcare providers. Future prospective randomized studies that include some or all of the 10 steps discussed in this report are necessary to confirm whether the 10 steps adopted by the authors were in fact science or fiction in the battle for infection control.