Janneke J. P. Schimmel, MSc, a scientist at Sint Maartenskliniek in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, recently spoke about the findings of a study on the occurrence of infections in lumbar fusion surgery sites. The study performed by Schimmel and a team of Dutch researchers showed that there is a link between lumbar spinal fusion surgery and surgical site infections on surgeries done in the same location.
Orthopedics Today quoted Schimmel who said, ‘Our main finding is that previous surgery was associated with the higher risk for the appearance of an infection. More complex surgery resulted in an increase for the infection rates.’ She also noted that the longer it took to perform a spinal surgery, the higher the chance of infection at the surgery site. Schimmel reported on the findings of the 9-year-long study in Miami, Florida at the 36th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine.
The investigators gathered and analyzed data on more than 1400 patients who had received lumbar fusion surgery in The Netherlands between 1999 and 2007. The study identified many factors concurrent with the appearance of deep infections at the site of the operations. In addition to factors already mentioned, patients who smoke cigarettes, and patients with diabetes mellitus were also found to be at greater risk of deep infections after lumbar spinal fusion surgery. The data for the study was collected from hospital databases and patient charts.
The intensive study showed that out of 1454 patients, 31 of them tested positive for bacterial infections. Nearly all of the infections found were caused by Staphylococcus basteria.
The increased costs of treatment for postoperative infections are staggering. Over 1000 extra hospital days were required for further treatment of patients with deep infections in their spines. The Orthopedics Today article reported that it is extremely costly to treat and care for deep infections due to longer hospital stays and expensive pharmaceuticals, lab tests, and other necessary procedures.
Some implications of the study suggest that shortening the length of time it takes to perform lumbar fusion surgery could lessen the chance of infection. This may inspire innovative surgeons and researchers to develop faster, more efficient, and less invasive procedures for lumbar surgery in the future.
(pic from flickr.com/photos/doctorow)