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BACKGROUND: Removal of instrumentation is often recommended as part of treatment for spinal infections, but studies have reported eradication of infection even with instrumentation retention by using serial débridements and adjuvant antibiotic pharmacotherapy. We sought to determine the effect of instrumentation retention or removal on outcomes in children with spinal infections. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the cases of patients who experienced early (< 3 mo) or late (≥ 3 mo) infected spinal fusions. Patients were evaluated at least 2 years after eradication of the infection using the following protocol outcomes: follow-up Cobb angle, curve progression and nonunion rates. RESULTS: Our sample included 35 patients. The mean age at surgery was 15.1 ± 6.0 years, 65.7% were girls, and mean follow-up was 41.7 ± 26.9 months. The mean Cobb angle was 63.6° ± 14.5° preoperatively, 29.4° ± 16.5° immediately after surgery and 37.2° ± 19.6° at follow-up. Patients in the implant removal group (n = 21) were more likely than those in the implant retention group (n = 14) to have a lower ASA score (71.4% v. 28.6%, p = 0.03), fewer comorbidities (66.7% v. 21.4%, p = 0.03), late infections (81.0% v. 14.3%, p = 0.01) and deep infections (95.2% v. 64.3%, p = 0.03). Implants were retained in 12 of 16 (75.0%) patients with early infections and 2 of 19 (10.5%) with late infections. Patients with implant removal had a higher pseudarthrosis rate (38.1% v. 0%, p = 0.02) and a faster curve progression rate (5.8 ± 9.8° per year v. 0.2 ± 4.7° per year, p = 0.04). CONCLUSION: Implant retention should be considered, irrespective of the timing or depth of the infection.

Original publication

DOI

10.1503/cjs.006014

Type

Journal article

Journal

Canadian Journal of Surgery

Publication Date

04/2015

Volume

58

Pages

107 - 113

Addresses

The University of Toronto Faculty of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ont.

Keywords

Humans, Prosthesis-Related Infections, Surgical Wound Infection, Scoliosis, Debridement, Spinal Fusion, Retrospective Studies, Adolescent, Female, Male, Young Adult, Therapeutic Irrigation