Risk Factors and Symptoms

Spinal Infection and Complications

Lead Author(s): 

Sigurd H. Berven, MD
Matthew D. Hepler, MD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Risk factors associated with postsurgical complications and infection following spine surgery include obesity, diabetes, steroid and alcohol use, revision surgery, age, and operative time and blood loss. Postsurgical wound infections can arise from direct inoculation of the wound intra-operatively or indirectly by hematogenous seeding from other sources (ie, spread through the bloodstream). The most frequent organism cultured is Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infection), while gram-negative organisms are more commonly seen in polymicrobial infections (infections involving multiple types of bacteria).1

The most frequently reported symptoms are back pain, fever, and wound drainage, usually within the first 10-20 days of surgery, although latent infections may occur more than one year from surgery.

  • 1. Massie JB, Heller AG, Abittol JJ, et al: Postoperative posterior spinal wound infections. Clin Orthop Relat Res 1992;284:99-108.


  • 2014

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