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      Surgical site infections following instrumented stabilization of the spine

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          Implant-associated infections are still a feared complication in the field of orthopedics. Bacteria attach to the implant surface and form so-called biofilm colonies that are often difficult to diagnose and treat. Since the majority of studies focus on prosthetic joint infections (PJIs) of the hip and knee, current treatment options (eg, antibiotic prophylaxis) of implant-associated infections have mostly been adapted according to these results.


          The aim of this study was to evaluate patients with surgical site infections following instrumented stabilization of the spine with regard to detected bacteria species and the course of the disease.

          Patients and methods

          We performed a retrospective single-center analysis of implant-associated infections of the spine from 2010 to 2014. A total of 138 patients were included in the study. The following parameters were evaluated: C-reactive protein serum concentration, microbiological evaluation of tissue samples, the time course of the disease, indication for instrumented stabilization of the spine, localization of the infection, and the number of revision surgeries required until cessation of symptoms.


          Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus spp. were most commonly detected (n=69, 50%), followed by fecal bacteria (n=46, 33.3%). In 23.2% of cases, no bacteria were detected despite clinical suspicion of an infection. Most patients suffered from degenerative spine disorders (44.9%), followed by spinal fractures (23.9%), non-degenerative scoliosis (20.3%), and spinal tumors (10.1%). Surgical site infections occurred predominantly within 3 months (64.5%), late infections after 2 years were rare (4.3%), in particular when compared with PJIs. Most cases were successfully treated after 1 revision surgery (60.9%), but there were significant differences between bacteria species. Fecal bacteria were more difficult to treat and often required more than 1 revision surgery.


          In summary, we were able to demonstrate significant differences between spinal implant-associated infections and PJIs. These aspects should be considered early on in the treatment of surgical site infections following instrumented stabilization of the spine.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Microbial biofilms.

          Direct observations have clearly shown that biofilm bacteria predominate, numerically and metabolically, in virtually all nutrient-sufficient ecosystems. Therefore, these sessile organisms predominate in most of the environmental, industrial, and medical problems and processes of interest to microbiologists. If biofilm bacteria were simply planktonic cells that had adhered to a surface, this revelation would be unimportant, but they are demonstrably and profoundly different. We first noted that biofilm cells are at least 500 times more resistant to antibacterial agents. Now we have discovered that adhesion triggers the expression of a sigma factor that derepresses a large number of genes so that biofilm cells are clearly phenotypically distinct from their planktonic counterparts. Each biofilm bacterium lives in a customized microniche in a complex microbial community that has primitive homeostasis, a primitive circulatory system, and metabolic cooperativity, and each of these sessile cells reacts to its special environment so that it differs fundamentally from a planktonic cell of the same species.
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            Scenery of Staphylococcus implant infections in orthopedics.

            Infection is still the major complication of orthopedic implants and projections based on the actual trend indicate that total hip and knee arthroplasties and their consequent infection burden are destined to greatly increase. Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis are the leading etiologic agents of orthopedic implant infection. Here we report on epidemiology of implant-related Staphylococcus infections in orthopedics, also referring to our experience, and focus on the crucial role of bacterial adhesins and on their ability to direct the pathogenesis process. Bacteria initiate implant infection by adhering to biomaterials. In the early steps of infection, adhesins mediate the specific interaction between microbial cells and the extracellular matrix proteins filming biomaterial surface. Then adhesin-mediated anchorage allows bacteria to cling to the biomaterial surface and to produce a biofilm that favors their ability to resist antibiotics. With the aim to prevent implant-related infections, anti-infective and infection-resistant biomaterials are being developed. The research for novel therapeutic strategies is incited by the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Vaccines against the adhesins or antisense molecules against virulence genes can open a future in combating implant infections.
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              Risk factors for infection after spinal surgery.

              A retrospective case control analysis of 48 cases of postoperative infection following spinal procedures. Spinal procedures that became infected after surgery were analyzed to identify the significance of preoperative and intraoperative risk factors. Characterization of the nature and timing of the infections was also performed. The rate of postoperative infection following spinal surgery varies widely depending on the nature of the procedure and the patient's diagnosis. Preoperative comorbidities and risk factors also influence the likelihood of infection. A review of 1629 procedures performed on 1095 patients revealed that a postoperative infection developed in 48 patients (4.4%). Data regarding preoperative and intraoperative risk factors were gathered from patient charts for these and a randomly selected control group of 95 uninfected patients. For analysis, these patient groups were further divided into adult and pediatric subgroups, with an age cutoff of 18 years. Preoperative risk factors reviewed included smoking, diabetes, previous surgery, previous infection, steroid use, body mass index, and alcohol abuse. Intraoperative factors reviewed included staging of procedures, estimated blood loss, operating time, and use of allograft or instrumentation. The majority of infections occurred during the early postoperative period (less than 3 months). Age >60 years, smoking, diabetes, previous surgical infection, increased body mass index, and alcohol abuse were statistically significant preoperative risk factors. The most likely procedure to be complicated by an infection was a combined anterior/posterior spinal fusion performed in a staged manner under separate anesthesia. Infections were primarily monomicrobial, although 5 patients had more than 4 organisms identified. The most common organism cultured from the wounds was Staphylococcus aureus. All patients were treated with surgical irrigation and débridement, and appropriate antibiotics to treat the cultured organism. Aggressive treatment of patients undergoing complex or prolonged spinal procedures is essential to prevent and treat infections. Understanding a patient's preoperative risk factors may help the physician to optimize a patient's preoperative condition. Additionally, awareness of critical intraoperative parameters will help to optimize surgical treatment. It may be appropriate to increase the duration of prophylactic antibiotics or implement other measures to decrease the incidence of infection for high risk patients.

                Author and article information

                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Dove Medical Press
                20 September 2017
                : 13
                : 1239-1245
                [1 ]Clinic for Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery, Center for Orthopedics, Trauma Surgery and Spinal Cord Injury, Heidelberg University Hospital
                [2 ]Department for Infectious Diseases, Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Michael Akbar, Center for Orthopedics, Trauma Surgery and Spinal Cord Injury, Heidelberg University Hospital, Schlierbacher Landstrasse 200a, 69118 Heidelberg, Germany, Tel +49 622 1562 6305, Fax +49 622 1562 7307, Email michael.akbar@ 123456med.uni-heidelberg.de
                © 2017 Dapunt et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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