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Clinical Decision Making in Early Wound Drainage Following Posterior Spine Surgery in Pediatric Patients

Spine Deformity
DOI: 10.1016/j.jspd.2013.12.003
  • Wound Drainage
  • Infection
  • Spine
  • Scoliosis
  • Pediatric Deformity
  • Agricultural Science
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine


Abstract Study Design Retrospective. Objectives To identify the clinical factors suggestive of infected and non-infected drainage to help clinical decision making. Summary of Background Data Differentiating between drainage caused by a benign seroma and deep spinal infection may be difficult in the early postoperative period. Methods Institutional spine surgery database was searched to identify the cases that were taken back to the operating room for drainage from the surgical wound in the early postoperative period between 2000 and 2012. Results A total of 38 cases of early wound drainage (within 6 weeks postoperatively) were identified that were treated with opening all layers, irrigation, and debridement. Intraoperative cultures were sent in all cases. Twenty-five patients proved to have non-infected drainage and did not require further treatment. In 13 patients, infection was confirmed with intra-operative findings and cultures; these patients were treated with serial debridements. In 4 cases, implants had to be removed after multiple debridements (after a quiescent period). The group with non-infected drainage differed from the infection group in that most patients (21 of 25) had non-neuromuscular deformities, whereas 77% of the infected group had neuromuscular etiology (10 of 13) (p = .0004). Average number of days to revision was 8.5 (range, 5–14 days) for the non-infected group. Of the 25 patients, 23 presented in the first 10 days. In the infected group, average number of days to revision was 19. Ten of the 13 patients presented on postoperative day 14 or later. Logistic regression analysis showed a significant association between increased likelihood of infection and increased time from the index procedure (p = .0085). Conclusions The findings suggest that early presenting drainage in pediatric idiopathic spine deformity is often not infected. Drainage, especially presenting after the second postoperative week in neuromuscular patients, proved to be mostly deep spinal wound infections.

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